Foreign Policy Blogs

The Fog of Politics and Denied Justice

People walk to pay their respect to a memorial for the victims of the genocide in the Armenian capital Yerevan (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images).

At a certain point in the near future there will likely be a moment of clarity that cuts through the fog of partisan politics on the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. To cement this clarity for future generations and prevent them from making the same errors, it would be prudent to subject biased policy perspectives to judicial review, when possible.

Establishing the facts in an objective review would assist in completing an appropriate narrative for our time in history, and could possibly achieve some form of justice for victims of war crimes and genocide.

While acts committed by combatants, militants and terrorists can be established with evidence, the intent of these actions is harder to define. With so much fog over the intent of the players in the Middle East, it must be considered that any actions that contributed to war crimes should be considered in the assessment of these events in world history.

While whether or not an individual in Western societies can be compelled to assist those in immediate danger is a thoroughly discussed issue, it has been determined that not helping another person is not a crime in most legal systems. The lack of a moral application when discussing genocide however leads to possible horrendous situations.

The discovery of concentration camps during the Holocaust was met with inaction to help the victims of that mass genocide, leading to additional deaths due to lack of assistance. While absolving one’s responsibility to a victim group would surely be easier, it is against natural justice to avoid victims of genocide as they are too human to ignore.

To form a holistic legal precedent on mass atrocities committed against communities living in Iraq and Syria, it would be a matter of equity to acknowledge and apply legally binding precedents over third parties that have indirectly contributed to the further genocide of victim groups in the region.

Firstly, if it was established that the third party was aware of the mass atrocity to a greater or lesser degree, and actively worked to alter or fade out information about the acts taking place there for a reason that benefits that set of policymakers, then it should be considered as partly contributing to the acts taking place on the ground. Knowledge of an atrocity is the first step to help prohibit those actions, and it is why knowingly diminishing the brutality of the act should be a crime in itself.

Secondly, if the third party took indirect actions that should have been known to likely prolong the genocide taking place or prevents the rescue or assistance of that known community subject to ethnic cleansing, it should be taken as a partial contribution to the act itself. This should be applied to all victims of the targeted group during the time frame in which those contributory third party activities took place.

Thirdly, if a third party knowing of the genocide that took place puts undue bias and pressure on members of the groups that were subject to acts of genocide, murder, torture, sexual assault, acts against minors, planned extermination and others atrocities in the process of ethnically cleansing those groups that have been targeted, and discriminates in the process of assisting individuals from that group, then they should also be acknowledged and charged to respond in the greater trials on crimes against humanity against the individuals of that community.

Targeted groups and individuals should never been re-targeted by discriminatory policies before or after the resolution of the greater conflict. Ignoring the actions against them is the source of the initial discrimination and is tantamount to taking further actions against their community.

Unfortunately, many of the above third party actions have knowingly been taking place and have been blanketed over due to political games in many countries, even those founded on justice and the rule of law. While all sides accuse the others of not having clean hands, the case for justice against atrocities committed in 2016 and previously may not come to fruition in 2017 without strong public condemnation of the genocides committed in our current generation.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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