Command Responsibility

Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes.

The doctrine of “command responsibility” was established by the Hague Conventions IV (1907) and X (1907) and applied for the first time by the German Supreme Court in Leipzig after World War I, in the 1921 trial of Emil Muller.

The "Yamashita standard" is based upon the precedent set by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. He was prosecuted in 1945, in a still controversial trial, for atrocities committed by troops under his command in the Philippines. Yamashita was charged with "unlawfully disregarding and failing to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command by permitting them to commit war crimes."

The "Medina standard" is based upon the 1971 prosecution of US Army Captain Ernest Medina in connection with the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. It holds that a commanding officer, being aware of a human rights violation or a war crime, will be held criminally liable when he does not take action. However, Medina was acquitted of all charges.

Famous quotes containing the word command:

    I had now formed a clear and settled opinion, that the people of America were well warranted to resist a claim that their fellow-subjects in the mother-country should have the entire command of their fortunes, by taxing them without their consent.
    James Boswell (1740–1795)