Border Crimes as Crimes against Humanity
Forthcoming in Oxford Handbook for International Refugee Law, Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster and Jane McAdam, eds.
19 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 5, 2020
What does it mean to cast border violence as a crime against migrants, specifically as an international crime? Some instances of border violence satisfy the legal definition of crimes against humanity. However, so far, almost no investigations or prosecutions have been brought forth to hold the perpetrators of such crimes accountable. The Chapter therefore elucidates the moral and political assumptions required for international criminal law to do just that. These are divided into three groups: (1) interpretations focused on the way that border policies employ violence against migrants to send a message to other would-be migrants; (2) interpretations revealing that prosecuting border crimes allows criminal law to address ‘structural violence’; (3) interpretations stressing the social desirability of porous borders and the harms of hermetic separations between national groups. The Chapter concludes by a call to make explicit the moral and political commitments undergirding advocacy through international criminal law.
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