The Short Arm of International Criminal Law

Authored by: William A. Schabas

The Ashgate Research Companion to International Criminal Law

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409419181
eBook ISBN: 9781315613062
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043157


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Imagine a domestic criminal justice system where the prosecuting authorities respond to only a tiny handful of complaints. They confine their attention to a few, carefully selected communities and neglect everything else. When asked to explain the apparent arbitrariness of their choices, those in charge of the system answer that they are selecting only the ‘the most serious’ matters for prosecution. It is apparent that while the situations they select are certainly serious, many equally serious ones are ignored. The vast majority of the victims of such crimes, who generally believe that their own circumstances are ‘the most serious’, will never see justice done. Although constantly told that the process is being conducted in their name, they remain profoundly dissatisfied (aside from the tiny minority for whom justice is delivered). As victims of serious crimes against the person, the fact that their own communities are entirely overlooked while others attract the attention of the authorities is incomprehensible.

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