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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78431 Find in a Library
Title: Reconciling the Irreconcilable - The Quest for International Agreement Over Political Crime and Terrorism (From Yearbook of World Affairs, P 208-236, 1978, George W Keaton and George Schwarzenberger, ed.)
Author(s): N N Kittrie
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 29
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: An examination of terrorists and their privileged status as political offenders concludes that international agreements on terrorism cannot be achieved, but the older international laws dealing with political criminals can be used to reconcile viewpoints on the acceptability of violence to achieve political ends.
Abstract: Despite evidence of relatively limited victimization, transnational political crime and terrorism have become grave concerns to the international community because they threaten certain pillars of the international system, such as security of travel and commerce, diplomatic protection, and safeguarding of civilian populations. A coordinated response to terrorism has been hindered by the claim that terrorists are a species of political offenders to whom international law historically has accorded special privileges and that terrorist actions should not be condemned while other regimes of terror are allowed to continue. There is no international consensus about the definition of modern terrorists, although the factor that probably distinguishes them from political offenders is a lack of sensitivity to proportionality, traditional notions of innocence, and the concept of restricted warfare. International laws have tended to narrow the exceptions granted to political offenders, as demonstrated in various conventions regarding war crimes. Persons who commit treasonous acts or violate repressive State laws are still entitled to the political offender exception to extradition, but other activities are now prohibited, including genocide, aircraft hijackings, and kidnapping diplomats. Problems still remain in complex areas involving both international rights and crimes, and international agreements have been unable to deal with such conduct. A comprehensive approach to combating terrorism would combine domestic prosecution of illegal acts which affect the international community, exchange of information, and extradition. The reform of extradition standards would be the most important step toward formal international agreements, followed by a careful definition of when an individual can resort to violence on the grounds of self-defense. Approximately 50 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Counter-terrorism tactics; International cooperation; International law; Political offender nonextradition; Political offenders
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