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Genocide

The Genocide Convention
Implementation Act of 1987


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This legislation is commonly known as "The Proxmire Act"


The Proxmire Act is contained in Chapter 50A of the US law code, Title 18 (Crimes and Criminal Procedure), Part I (Crimes). Section 1091 deals specifically with Genocide. The law implements the United Nations' Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UNCG) in the U.S.

It states in part:

  • (a) Basic Offense. - Whoever, whether in time of peace or in time of war, in a circumstance described in subsection (d) and with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such -
    1. kills members of that group;
    2. causes serious bodily injury to members of that group;
    3. causes the permanent impairment of the mental faculties of members of the group through drugs, torture, or similar techniques;
    4. subjects the group to conditions of life that are intended to cause the physical destruction of the group in whole or in part;
    5. imposes measures intended to prevent births within the group; or
    6. transfers by force children of the group to another group; or attempts to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
  • (c) Incitement offense. -  Whoever... directly and publicly incites another to violate subsection (a) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


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Definitions:

The act defines:

  • religious group as meaning "a set of individuals whose identity as such is distinctive in terms of common religious creed, beliefs, doctrines, practices, or rituals.
  • incites as meaning to urge "another to engage imminently in conduct in circumstances under which there is a substantial likelihood of imminently causing such conduct.

Subsection (d) states that the law applies whenever "the offense is committed within the United States"; or "the alleged offender is a national of the United States." Fines of up to 1 million dollars are possible under this act. Imprisonment for life is possible in the case of murder, or up to 20 years otherwise. There is no statute of limitations for this law.


Application of the law:

To our knowledge, charges have never been laid under this law.

The law appears applicable to any attempted destruction of any religious group, small or large. It could be argued that physical assaults on members of a group with the intent of forcing them to abandon their religion could be interpreted as a criminal act which falls within this law. Such attacks on small Wiccan, other Neo-Pagan groups, and other faith groups have occured from time to time in the United States. We have read reports in which two conservative Christian clergy from Texas independently allegedly advocated the genocide of Wiccans. There are a number of individuals and groups who advocate the execution of individuals who engage in homosexual behavior.


Reference:

  1. "US code Collection," Legal Information Institute of Cornell University, at: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/

Site navigation: Home page > Laws & religionGenocide > here

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