International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

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Truth and Reconciliation in Canada

One part of Canadian history that is not commonly talked about is the Indian Residential School system. This boarding school system was in place as a way to try and assimilate aboriginal people into “normal (white) society”. Canada was not alone in this practice
as schools like these also existed in the United States for many years. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was constituted and created by the Indian trc-final-reportResidential Schools Settlement. For years the aboriginal peoples of Canada have had to live with the consequences from the residential schools and finally this truth commission worked as a conduit for healing and truth. The goals of the Commission are to acknowledge the schools and their impacts and consequences, to provide a safe and culturally appropriate setting for former students  and their parents to come forward, to promote awareness of the IRS system, to create a historical record, produce and submit to the Parties of the Agreement report and lastly to support commemoration of former IRS students. The final report of the Commission is to be released in December of this year. Seeing how the United States system was so parallel to Canada it will be interesting to see if there is a future for a commission here in the states. *Pictured is Commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair shaking hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau*


A Case for Transnational Justice

Law, in theory, should adapt to fit the magnitude of crimes committed.  Such was the case with the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, and with the creation of the International Criminal Court in 2000.  After periods of crime beyond what the world had previously seen, international forces came together to make retributive justice fit the scope atrocity the world had seen.  However, there is a type, or a system, of crime that international transitional justice systems still don’t really have the capacity to cope with– transnational crimes.

During the Cold War, the United States pursued policies and supported regimes worldwide that pushed forward anti-communist ideology.  In Latin America, this policy manifested itself in support of brutal military dictatorships that systematically “disappeared” all dissidents. In certain cases, such as in Chile, the United States even played an instrumental role in orchestrating military coups, overthrowing left-wing regimes.  The United States took part in Operation Condor, a transnational, covert intelligence operation through which left-leaning subversives were eliminated, no matter where in the Western Hemisphere they fled.

The current legal framework does not necessarily allow for prosecution of those involved in  Operation Condor.  As it stands, jurisdiction is based on the state.  A crime must have been committed on a state’s soil, against a citizen of that state, or by a citizen of that state, in order to establish jurisdiction within that state.  Universal jurisdiction is, of course, important, because it allows third party states to prosecute, but this, too has its problems.  First, it is very difficult to establish universal jurisdiction because universal jurisdiction only applies to atrocity crimes.  Second, it is still assumes prosecutions should take place in states’ courts, under a states’ systems.  This is why a system of transnational justice is necessary.  Those who planned and executed Operation Condor were not persecuting a particular state, but rather a particular ideology.  International crime crosses national borders.  Transnational crime transcends them.

If the crime is transnational, shouldn’t the justice process be, too?