Rediscovering the War Crimes Trials in Hong Kong, 1946–48
Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol.13, No. 2, pp. 284, 2012
65 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2012 Last revised: 21 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
In Hong Kong, from 28 March 1946 to 20 December 1948, four British military tribunals tried war crimes cases from across the British colonial territories of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories, and also from Formosa (Taiwan), China (Waichow and Shanghai), Japan and from the high seas. This paper is a window into the rediscovered Hong Kong war crimes trials and the key issues in international law that they raised. Further advanced research by international experts is currently underway for a book commissioned by Oxford University Press, due for publication in 2013. As such, this article will provide a ‘taster’ of what is emerging from the research that is currently in progress. The author’s intention is to present the Hong Kong war crimes cases on their own merits, to allow them to be understood in their own right. The author does not engage in a comparative study of what was done elsewhere then or in recent years; that would be a major project for another occasion. The author instead seeks to draw out some of the richness and diversity of these cases as they are, and to enlighten our contemporary understanding through a look back at a process that was part of the making of modern international criminal law.
Keywords: war crimes, World War II, Hong Kong, Japan, China, UK, British military courts, British military tribunals, Royal Warrant 1946, international criminal law, international criminal procedure, Manual of Military Law,superior orders, modes of responsibility, command responsibility, international justice
JEL Classification: K33, K30, K40, K41, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation