The after-death fate of victims of mass violence: the perpetrator’s use of the victims’ corpses to abuse the law

ICL Lunch with Professor Caroline Fournet from the University of Groningen. 

An intrinsic and material consequence of mass violence and armed conflict is the production of human corpses en masse. Depending on each particular instance of mass atrocity, the fate of the corpses of the victims can vary from severe mistreatment, looting, mutilation, traffic, transport to exhibition (during and after the atrocities) or, on the contrary, to concealment and/or destruction. The modalities of the treatment of the victims’ corpses are seldom random. They might in reality be highly symptomatic of the criminal modus operandi and the criminal intent of the perpetrators, reflecting their practical organisation and their ideology as well as, possibly, their anticipation of defence arguments before (international) courts of law.  

My talk will focus on three distinct cases of mass violence exemplifying how – and tentatively explaining why – the bodies of the victims of mass atrocities have been either shown (Rwanda), or buried into primary, secondary and even tertiary mass graves (Bosnia-Herzegovina), or still disappeared (Argentina). 



Pluricourts holds a monthly international criminal law (ICL) lunch, where an invited ICL expert gives a presentation on a topic of their choice, followed by questions from the audience. The aim is to provide a wide-ranging lecture series, giving varied insights into what is happening within the field of ICL today. We invite speakers from different backgrounds, and have had presentations from Norwegian- based and international academics, as well as speakers from local agencies who work with ICL-related issues, such as Kripos and the Norwegian Red Cross. The lunches also function as a meeting point for those who are interested in ICL, allowing for ideas to be exchanged and developed. They are open to the public, and are attended by staff, students and those working in ICL in the Oslo area.

Tags: Criminal law
Published June 2, 2017 11:42 AM - Last modified May 8, 2018 8:16 AM