Charles Taylor's Son, "Chucky" Taylor, Convicted of Torture in Federal District Court
Nov-2-08 02:18 pm
If it weren't for Opinio Juris, I probably would have missed this decision. Julian Ku posts:
Julian raises an interesting question about Congress' power to establish prescriptive jurisdiction under the universality principle. A couple of quick comments.
First, it is clear that under international law states can exercize prescriptive jurisdiction under the universality principle for crimes that are recignized under customary international law as universal crimes-- such as piracy, slave trade, war crimes, genocide, torture, high jacking and certain other offenses against aircraft, and perhaps several others.
Second, it is interesting how the US deals with other universal crimes. Here are some examples. The Genocide Convention Implementation Act only asserts jurisdiction over US nationals or over persons who commit the offense in the United States. A quick examination of federal statutes dealing with slave trade (and I might have missed something) seem to indicate that there does need to be some nexus with the United States--- a national of the US or the vessel originating from the US. for example. Similarly, federal statutes dealing with war crimes seem to require that the offense be commited by a member of the US Armed Forces or a national of the US.
But there is at least one exception to the requirement of a direct US nexus-- piracy. Title 18, § 1651 of the US Code provides:
I cannot find any limitation to the "whoever."
I will explore some other areas in a subsequent post.
About the editor:
Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.
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