Has Owen Bowcott Ever Bothered to Actually Read Perisic?
I pointed out last month that Owen Bowcott, a legal affairs correspondent for the Guardian, incorrectly claimed that “[g]enerals and politicians could evade responsibility for war crimes in future because of a ruling requiring proof that they ‘specifically directed’ atrocities.” That is not what Perisic does: the Appeals Chamber did not say that a perpetrator must specifically direct a crime; it said that a perpetrator must specifically direct his assistance toward a crime – the difference between ordering and aiding and abetting.
I tweeted my post to both Bowcott and the Guardian. Unfortunately, neither seems concerned with accuracy — Bowcott’s new article on the Charles Taylor judgment makes exactly the same erroneous claim (emphasis mine):
There had been speculation that the tribunal might overturn Taylor’s convictions, following stricter precedents set in the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia about what constitutes “aiding and abetting”. A series of recent judgments in that court now mean proof is required that senior military commanders have “specifically directed” atrocities.
Bowcott has either not read Perisic or simply does not understand it. Either way, he has no business writing about international criminal justice.