ABSTRACT

To be sure, the notion of the perpetrator indicted by an international tribunal has – since the Nuremberg Tribunals and Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem – propelled a particular international imaginary of those whose actions or inaction contributed to vast crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes that shock the human conscience. These perpetrators – military leaders, co-conspirators, heads of state and warlords – embody a presence that is at large in various post-violence situations today. This article is concerned with the ways the African perpetrator – conceived of and indicted by international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) – and notions of ‘culpability’ are mediated through a distinct colonial-postcolonial

Kamari Maxine Clarke

continuum. In this context, entities such as the ICC base culpability for contemporary violence in a narrow, ahistorical time frame that adheres to notions of ‘command responsibility’ which places responsibility in the hands of those who gave the orders or encouraged the violence. Others take the long history of colonial and postcolonial injustices into account when assigning guilt for present-day actions. As important, there are still others, often those who experienced or lived through the violence themselves, who are more likely to hold accountable the proximate actors who inflicted the physical and emotional violence, including the police, the head of the police, the military and the foot soldiers.