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May 15, 2018 / C H Thompson

State crimes – revision notes with evaluative points

Examples of State crimes

 Guantanamo Bay

  • The United States Military Prison reported abuse and torture. Cuba used to prosecute for war crimes, and there have been many unsuccessful attempts at closing the prison. Currently 93 detainees remain. It has been described as a “human rights scandal”.

Jean Charles de Menezes

  • A Brazilian man killed by officers of the London Metropolitan police service on the London underground in 2005 -> UK police officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber – more examples

Difficulties in defining state crime

  • It’s mostly measuring and not defining crime that is the issue.
  • State crimes are carried out by powerful people and/or groups who identify their acts as legitimate, making it difficult to measure the extent of state crime.
  • Governments have the power to cover up such activities by controlling the flow of information.
  • The powerful people who make the statistics are the ones who carry out these crimes, and they are the ones who control the media and are therefore able to cover it up.
  • The powerful can define what counts as crime in society -> what is defined as crime or violence is an ideological construct, for example, governments can say that killing done by a member of the state is a crime, yet not if the same action was carried out by a soldier



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