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International Criminal Law and Border Control: The expressive role of the deportation and extradition of genocide suspects to Rwanda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages20
JournalLeiden Journal of International Law
Issue number3
Accepted/In press21 Jan 2020
Published2 Jun 2020


  • Palmer_ICL_and_Border_Control

    SSRN_Palmer_ICL_and_Border_Control.pdf, 401 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:02 Jun 2020

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


The use of criminal law in border control has gained increasing and warranted scholarly attention. International criminal law is no exception, although the orientation of the debates in international law is different from that at the national level. While scholarship on domestic border control is characterised by a deep scepticism of the use of criminal sanction, the focus in international criminal law has been on the exclusion of individuals suspected of involvement in an international crime from the protective sphere of refugee law. The divergence of this scholarship does not fully account for how responses to allegations of involvement in an international crime are often embedded within domestic immigration laws, making concerns regarding domestic border control relevant for discussions in international criminal law. To examine these domestic entanglements, this paper analyses an independently generated dataset of 122 cases in 20 countries concerning 102 individuals alleged to have participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This dataset enables an empirical analysis of the role that international criminal law is playing in their extradition, deportation or domestic prosecution. It argues that these cases are underpinned by plural types of expressive work. They communicate not only an on-going commitment to recognising the universal wrong of genocide, but also more ambiguous messaging about what constitutes a fair trial in Rwanda, who constitutes a ‘criminal migrant’ and, to a Rwandan audience, the transnational penal reach of the Rwandan state.

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