War Crimes


War Crimes Essay, Research Paper

A war crime is any of various crimes, such as genocide or the mistreatment of prisoners of war, committed during a war and considered in violation of the conventions of warfare. War crimes are constantly being committed during war and something has to be done. There have been too many instances where these sorts of criminals have gotten away. Victims of war have gotten little or no justice at all, we have to come up with a solution so that there will be a way to punish these hanas crimes.

To commit a war crime you have to break one of the two main principles, which are: “The principle of necessity and the principle of humanity.” What the first principle means is that you can kill the enemy only when it is completely necessary. The second principle states that you should cause no unnecessary suffering to your enemy. These two principles are the two fundamental principles and have become highly detailed. The most important laws that have come out of the two main principles are that prisoners of war have rights and should never be executed or wounded after they have surrendered. That you are not allowed to take hostages, and that you can’t starve non-combatants. People who are sick, wounded should be cared for. Innocent civilians property should be spared, and civilians should have nothing stolen from them. You must treat all noncombatants humanely and equally.

These laws seem to be just and should be easily followed, but during times of war these laws are rarely followed. In times of war military soldiers do things that are sickening; they kill innocent people, rape women, torture people because they are of a different race or religion. These crimes are inhumane and something has to be done to make sure these crimes stop. After World War 2 you would have thought that genocide or ethnic cleansing wouldn’t be happening, but it still is. The war in Kosovo has resembled the same things that the Nazi’s did during WW2. We are trying to put a stop to these crimes by starting the United Nations, the making of the International Law Commission and now in the year 2000 we are trying to set up the International Criminal Court.

The most terrifying of all war crimes happened during WW2, where the German soldiers killed millions of innocent Jewish people. What the Nazi’s did had never happened before in war, therefore a new word was used to describe what they were doing, it was called genocide. Genocide is “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of life of different groups… of culture, languages, national feelings, religion and the economical existence of national groups, and the destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” The Nazis accomplished this terrible act be setting up concentration camps or death camps where they could kill as many Jewish people as possible, with great efficiency. The Nazis goal was to kill as many Jewish people as possible, and to get rid of the entire Jewish population in Europe. The Nazis accomplished this terrible task killing millions upon millions of Jews by means of gas chambers, starvation, beatings, and sexual torture.

After WW2 something had to be done. The Nazi soldiers who did this had to be punished in some way, shape or form. The Nuremberg trails were set up to achieve this. These trials were set up to punish these Nazi soldiers who committed such despicable acts against mankind. Before the trials took place the courts had to distinguish how culpable soldiers were who claimed they were just following orders. The statue said the ” The fact that an accused person acted pursuant to an order of Government or of a superior shall not relieve him of criminal responsibility.” With the establishment of this, the defense by the Nazis that they were following orders was thrown out. This was even backed up further by international law, which states, “a solider has not only the right but the duty to disobey orders, that would cause him to kill, commit torture or rape.”

On October 18, 1945 twenty people and different organizations were charged with four counts of conspiracy, crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The trial combined two elements of the law which were Angl-American and civil. The rules of the trial were quite different than that of the North American system for example Hearsay evidence was allowed, there was no jury, and no right to appeal. This trial caused the hanging of 10 of the 11 defendants who received the death penalties while the eleventh defendant committed suicide before he was hanged. The trial of Nuremberg has been debated throughout the years because some people believe that these Nazi solders and commanders didn’t receive a fair trial.

The Nuremberg trial was only one small step in bringing justice to the many Jewish victims. The Jewish victims have not received justice yet and probably never will because there are still numerous Nazi war criminals that have gotten away, and have become very hard to track down. Recently there is a case in which and alleged Nazi war criminal by the name of Konrad Kalejs is being sought after for his involvement in a Nazi death squad that killed an estimate of 30,000 people who were mostly Jewish during WW2. Mr. Kalejs however will not stand trial because there is not enough evidence to make an arrest. Mr. Kalejs was found in a British retirement home and now is being deported back to Australia where he lived after the war was over. This isn’t the first time Mr. Kalejs has been deported he was first deported by the U.S in 1994, then moved to Canada where he was deported again, after Canadian officials found out “he helped run a wartime slave labor camp in which prisoners were starved tortured and murdered.” This lack of justice has made numerous people upset who believed that it is Britain s “historical obligation” to give this man a trial instead of deporting him once again. Mr. Kalejs will not stand trial and will return to Australia where he will live the rest of his life a free man.

This is just an example of an ongoing battle to try to convict Nazi war criminals. It is so difficult to convict Nazi war criminals because suspects are dead or have gone into hiding, and that witnesses of these crimes are too old to testify. Something has to be done to bring Justice to the victims of WW2, we have to stop the injustice and find new ways to prosecute and convict these Nazi war criminals before it is too late.

War crimes aren’t always committed by the so-called “bad guys” i.e. Nazis, Chinese, and the Japanese. Other countries that are fighting for a good cause also commit these terrible crimes. A great example of this is what the United States of America did to Iraq during the Gulf War. The United Stated has been called the “good Germans” for the inhumane acts that they committed to the Iraqi people. The United States did commit war crimes but they weren’t reprimanded at all for what they did, the reason cannot be said. There can’t be justice when a super power like the United States commits these crimes and gets away with it.

The first crimes that the U.S committed was that they broke the two basic rules set down by the United Nations. These two rules are that “a nation cannot plan and make war.” The second rule that the U.S broke was “if there is a dispute, the nations must exhaust every means of settlement. Even then, only the UN can authorize war.” The United States violated these laws by telling “Kuwait to refuse to negotiate it differences with Iraq as required by the United Nations Charter.” The U.S didn’t wait for all means of negotiation to end the U.S decided that they never wanted to negotiate. The U.S not the UN decided that the dispute between Kuwait and Iraq would have to be settled by force. “It is the U.S that close war and not peace; it is the U.S that committed a crime against peace.”

This was not the only thing that the U.S did; the United States also broke the two main principle of war the principle of necessity and the principle of humanity. The U.S broke these two laws by basically doing the same thing that the Nazis did, which was killing innocent people and destroying cities. The United States did huge air strikes, or massive bombings these air strikes resulted in the killing of innocent people and these strikes also destroyed water supplies. The media and the news told viewers and readers that the U.S was using “smart” bombs that would only hit military targets. This was in fact false, it is said, “93 percent of the bombs used were dumb bombs of which at least 60 to 70 per cent missed their targets, killing lots of people.”

The U.S showed no remorse, to Iraq at all the U.S bombed food supplies, water systems, agriculture, power, medical services transportation and other basic essentials. There is no excuse for this behavior by the United States they fully knew that this type of destruction is prohibited because it leaves “civilians without the essentials for life.” The worst crime that the United States did was the bombing of the al-Ameriyah shelter where the U.S killed at least 300 children and parents. The U.S was fully aware that this was a shelter but because they speculated that it was a military communication center they blew it up.

What the United States of America did to Iraq was completely unnecessary, the U.S killed numerous noncombatants for no reason what so ever, the United States of America should be prosecuted just like the Nazi’s were. The U.S didn’t kill as many people as the Germans did during world war 2 however they did the crimes as recklessly and just like the Nazis they did on purpose, this type of behavior is called grave breaches which is what the Nazis did as well, and what the Nazis were hanged for.

The only way victims of war crimes can truly get justice is hopefully through the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is currently being established. The ICC has been tried to become established since the end of WW2, but because of the cold war, no country could agree on “an international body with such authority.” This court will be sponsored by the United Nations rather than having the UN general assembly or Security Council sponsored it. Because of this the ICC won’t have to follow UN procedures and rules, which as a result could operate more efficiently and have a greater effect.

The making of this court will set up an international criminal code, which would state all the crimes that could be brought fourth to the ICC. However this international criminal code is very far away. The ICC will first deal with “care” crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. When a person is found guilty by the ICC, it will be the national government to prosecute the criminal, except in a cast of genocide “where is has been proposed that the ICC should have inherent jurisdiction.”

The ICC will be set up like our court system here in Canada. Where the defendant will know the charges, the evidence against him, the defendant will be allowed a lawyer and can have witnesses testify on his behalf. The accused will have impartial judges and a right to an appeal. However the ICC will most likely follow the Continental European civil law system, so there will be no plea bargains. The ICC will be allowed to make its own investigation into war crimes as well.

With the making of the ICC it is clear that the world has become aware of the brutality cased by war crimes. The ICC is the first step in a way for the victims of war crimes to get justice. The ICC is a clear way for justice to be given to the victims of war. The court will be able to prosecute war criminals more effectively and efficiency than any other way before it. Because the ICC will be able to investigate on its own it will be easier for them to find the war criminals that have fled the countries. The making of the ICC war criminals will now be punished for their acts, which is what we need. Hopefully with the making of the ICC things like what the Nazis did and what the United States of America did will never happen again.

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