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9 Establishing Genocidal Intent

From: International Crimes: Law and Practice: Volume I: Genocide

Guénaël Mettraux

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 31 May 2023


This chapter explores the methods and challenges in establishing the genocidal intent of the accused. The evidential challenge generally involved is accentuated in the case of genocide by a number of factors specific to that offence. First, the requisite genocidal intent is eminently specific and evidentially demanding. It requires proof of three discrete sub-elements: an intent; to destroy; a group as such. In effect, these three elements imply not one level of special intent, but two — one in regards to the ultimate target of their action, the group; and one in regards to the intended fate of the group, i.e., its physical or biological destruction. Secondly, an intent to destroy a group of human beings is rarely publicized and is often dissimulated by the perpetrators. In such cases, the culpable intent will have to be inferred from what might have trickled from the words and actions of the accused and those of others involved in the commission of the crime.

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