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Letter: Crimes against humanity

The definition of crimes against humanity are “acts that are purposely committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians in time of war or peace.” In addition to the normally thought of acts such as murder or ethnic cleansing is a long list, including rape and sexual violence, unjust imprisonment and other inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

Sexual violence includes enforced sterilization. There are reports of sterilizations occurring on the Southern border. A whistleblower complaint filed by legal advocacy groups Project South, Georgia Detention Watch and others on behalf of Dawn Wooten, a nurse, against the Irwin County Detention Center operated by LaSelle Corrections, a private prison company, details forced sterilizations of detainees. The United States has a sorry history of forced sterilization primarily of minorities. Hitler reportedly used American examples as a basis for his sterilization programs at Auschwitz and Ravensbruck. 

The separation of thousands of children from their parents on the Southern border would certainly qualify as intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury. The separations were reported as being U.S. government policy to deter individuals from entering the United States. There are still an estimated 545 children being held who are separated from their parents. Their parents cannot be located.

The mental harm to the thousands of children separated from their parents by governmental policy includes reactive attachment disorder, which will affect these children for the rest of their lives.

Trump and his accomplices will have to answer for these actions. Unfortunately for lower level workers who implemented these policies, crimes against humanity prosecutions and convictions have made it clear that “following orders” is not a defense.

Joe Pacovsky