Bernal, Not a theory: what a criminal conspiracy is

Scene from the trial of 24 leading Nazi criminals at Nuremberg. Three were acquitted, charges were dropped against two, seven received prison sentences and 12 of these were sentenced to hang. At the first Nuremberg trial it was held that the Nazi Party was a criminal conspiracy. Not all defendants were found guilty for all acts of this conspiracy, but certain defenses were not accepted. Following orders would not excuse guilt for murder. There were other war crimes trials, at which the principle of command responsibility was upheld – a commander has a duty to restrain subordinates from committing war crimes. Throughout the Cold War the Nuremberg Principles became something of a dead letter. Afterward, in international trials for atrocities in Rwanda, West Africa and the former Yugoslavia, and now in the proceedings of the International Criminal Court, this body of law is again being developed and enforced. US Army photo.

The joint criminal enterprise

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The stab wounds inflicted upon Panamanian people by the ruling joint enterprise multiply without recourse. There is an urgent need for a forceful reaction from the citizenry to limit their political power before they finish destroying what is left of this country.

The latest from the governing joint enterprise has been the decision of the regents of the Inter-Institutional Council for Basic Certification of Medicine, (through Resolution No. 1 of the MINSA on March 3) with the signature of the doctors Américo Lombardo and Gerardo Victoria. It follows an order given by Cortizo, through the PRD deputy Crispiano Adames, to Minister Sucre and his advisor Alejandro Ganci, to lower the certification test score needed for doctors to be licensed to work as interns and to pursue residencies for their specialist board exams. The purpose is none other than to open the doors of privilege to unsuccessful family members and mediocre government supporters.

There are recent revelations that make it possible to say that we are under a government that, by acts and omissions, is responsible for the abuse, mistreatment, torture and rape of children in foster care institutions.

The authoritarian constitutionalism prevailing in our country has multiplied its blatant and / or covert authoritarian practices by wrapping itself around the pandemic. As a joint enterprise its achievements are increasing, but also damaging and destroying the social fabric.

The concept of joint criminal enterprise is a legal doctrine used in war crimes courts to allow the prosecution of members of a group for their actions. This doctrine holds each member of an organized group responsible for the crimes committed by the group within the common plan or purpose.

The common purpose doctrine has been applied by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to prosecute political and military leaders for massive war crimes, including genocide, committed during the Yugoslav wars of 1991-1999.

For example, if three people commit a bank robbery and one fatally shoots a person in the process, the law finds every one of them guilty of murder. The concept of “collective responsibility” allows that more than one person can share the responsibility and punishment for the actions of another person. (See Odriozola-Gurrutxaga, Miren (March 2014), “The doctrine of the joint criminal enterprise in ad hoc tribunals and its scope of application in the Rome Statute.” Ibero-American Yearbook of International Criminal Law 1: 86-104. ISSN 2346-3120)


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