The Targeted Criminal Case
One of the current criminal cases addresses the issue of cultural heritage destruction. On 27th September 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) jailed Almad al-Faqi al-Mahdi for destroying historic shrines and monuments in Timbuktu (Simons 12). The court sentenced the radical Islamist to serve nine years in prison. This criminal case is attention-grabbing because it redefines the role of cultural heritages in the society. This case has encouraged more people to focus on the issue of cultural heritage preservation. Many anthropologists argue that any destruction of cultural heritage should always be treated as a crime against humankind (Simons 12).
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The case of Almad al-Faqi al-Mahdi goes further to explain why international law should be allowed to address any form of attack on mankind’s heritage. In the recent past, the destruction of historical sites is something that has been used as a critical aspect of warfare (Storm 28). Such attempts have been committed as a way of destroying the identity and historical image of specific racial groups. This case has been widely publicized because of the growing concern to safeguard many religious heritages and cultural monuments.
Historians and social scientists believe that the intentional destruction of cultural monuments is currently being used as a war tactic (Simons 12). The tactic has been aimed at disseminating apathy and abhorrence across the globe. Experts also believe that many future extremists will continue to attack every aspect of diversity and critical thinking (Walasek 39). The leveling of the famous Sufi mausoleums in Timbuktu is something that should be taken seriously than ever before.
Recently, the historical sites of Aleppo and Palmyra were also destroyed by Islamists. Such acts have the potential to redraw human history and therefore new measures and legal ramifications should be put in place. That being the case, the world should put such destructions into perspective. By so doing, a global strategy of punishment and persecution will be implemented in an attempt to safeguard every human right.
Why the International Criminal Court (ICC) Has Jurisdiction Over the Case
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over criminal cases associated with the destruction of cultural heritages (“The International Criminal Court” par. 2). The World Heritage Convention (WHC) held by UNESCO in 1972 indicated that any attack on cultural monuments was a crime against mankind. The “ICC’s mandate to combat such kind of destruction was founded on a century of jurisprudence in international law” (Greenhalgh 12).
Consequently, “Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the ICC states that intentional attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives constitutes a war crime, regardless of how the conflict is classified” (“Ending Impunity for War Crimes on Cultural Heritage: The Mali Case” par. 7).
This statutory stipulation echoed the strategy embraced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that was ratified in the early 1990s (Walasek 32). The statutory stipulation was put in place to protect every cultural heritage. According to this law, the destruction of historical or religious buildings should be categorized as cultural genocide (“The International Criminal Court” par. 11). In conclusion, the ICC’s achievement should be treated as an historic step towards protecting every cultural heritage and ensuring that the rule of law is applied accordingly.
Ending Impunity for War Crimes on Cultural Heritage: The Mali Case. 2016. Web.
Greenhalgh, Michael. Destruction of Cultural Heritage in 19th-century France. Boston, MA: Brill, 2012. Print.
Simons, Marlise. “Prison Sentence Over Smashing Shrines in Timbuktu: 9 Years.” New York Times. 2016. Print.
Storm, Lisa. Introduction to Criminal Law. New York, NY: Flat World Education, 2012. Print.
The International Criminal Court. 2016. Web.
Walasek, Helen. Bosnia and the Destruction of Cultural Heritage. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2015. Print.