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Military Law Review

NOTE: THE NUREMBERG PRINCIPLES, COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY, AND THE DEFENSE OF CAPTAIN ROCKWOOD

Summer, 1995

149 Mil. L. Rev. 275

Author

Major Edward J. O'Brien *

Excerpt

I. Introduction

On the evening of 30 September 1994, Captain (CPT) Lawrence P. Rockwood, a counterintelligence officer for Joint Task Force (JTF) 190, left his place of duty at the Light Industrial Complex in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and went to the National Penitentiary to conduct an inspection. 1 Captain Rockwood feared that prisoners in the National Penitentiary were being abused, tortured, and killed. 2 Although Captain Rockwood had brought his concerns to other members of the JTF staff, they did not share his concern. 3 The testimony of several witnesses at his trial indicate that CPT Rockwood's fears were based on speculation and not on any evidence of abuse at the National Penitentiary. 4 By going to the National Penitentiary, CPT Rockwood left his place of duty and disobeyed orders. 5

At his court-martial, CPT Rockwood tried to justify his conduct based on international law. 6 One of CPT Rockwood's defense theories was that his command was criminally negligent by not protecting Haitian prisoners from alleged human rights abuses, and that CPT Rockwood could be held criminally responsible if he failed to act. 7

Asserting that his command was criminally negligent presupposes that the command had a duty to act. Captain Rockwood's defense raised two legal concepts to impose a duty on the JTF 190 Commander. Neither theory withstands scrutiny.

First, CPT Rockwood invoked the doctrine of command responsibility for war crimes committed by subordinate soldiers.
I reached the conclusion that the U.S. ...

 
 
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