Extrajudicial punishment

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Extrajudicial punishment is physical punishment without the permission of a court or legal authority. Generally, it can be carried out by a state apparatus needing to rid itself of a dangerously disruptive influence. One interpretation behind the concept of extrajudicial punishment is that governments will break their own legal code when it is necessary for them to do so. Non-governmental or non-state actors, including private individuals, can also resort to different forms of extrajudicial punishment, though such actions are often classified as assassinations or murders instead.

Although the legal use of capital punishment is generally decreasing around the world, individuals or groups deemed immediately threatening — or even, in times of comparative stability, simply "undesirable" — to a government's ability to govern may nevertheless be targeted for killing extrajudicially by some regimes or their representatives. Such killing typically happens quickly, with skilled secret security forces on a covert basis, performed in such a way as to avoid massive public outcry and international criticism that would reflect badly on the state.

Extrajudicial punishment is a typical feature of totalitarian and other politically repressive regimes using death squads for this purpose, but even self-proclaimed or internationally recognized democracies have been known to use extrajudicial punishment under certain circumstances. In some cases, extrajudicial punishment may be planned and carried out covertly by a particular branch of a state and its specific agents, without previously informing other sectors or even without having been secretly ordered to commit such acts. The other branches of the state can tacitly approve of it after the fact, but they can also directly disagree with it depending on the circumstances, especially when complex intragovernment or internal policy struggles exist within a state's policymaking apparatus.

In times of war, natural disaster, societal collapse, or in the absence of an established system of criminal justice, there may be an increased incidence of extrajudicial punishment. In such extreme circumstances, police or military personnel may be authorised to summarily execute individuals involved in rioting, looting or violent acts, especially if caught in flagrante delicto.

A "disappearance" occurs where someone who is believed to have been targeted for extrajudicial execution does not reappear alive. Their ultimate fate is thereafter unknown or never fully confirmed.

[edit] Extrajudicial punishment around the world

See NKVD troika and Special Council of the NKVD for examples from the history of the Soviet Union, where extrajudicial punishment "by administrative means" was part of the state policy. Most Latin American dictatorships have regularly instituted extrajudicial killings of their enemies; for one of the better-known examples, see Operation Condor.

Some consider the killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton to have been an extrajudicial killing ordered by the United States government. Also, the U.S. has been accused of exercising a covert prison system set up by the CIA in several countries, especially Egypt, to evade US jurisdiction. [1]

The government of Israel has also been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings, which they term "targeted assassinations," against leaders of organisations involved in carrying out attacks against Israel. The Israeli government and its defenders, however, consider these people to be enemy combatants and not civilians; claiming they are legitimate military targets as per the rules of war.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] Monitoring organizations

Extrajudicial punishment

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