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Summary: The Definition Of Genocide

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The forced removal of children, when considered as part of this extensive government policy towards Indigenous Australians, meets the definition of genocide. Notably, the removal of these children meets the legal standard of a physical act of genocide set by the United Nations. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide explicitly defines “forcibly transferring children of [a] group to another group” as genocide. Therefore, recognition of this action is enough to categorise Indigenous policy as genocidal. However, it is necessary to prove a “clear intent to cause the offence [of genocide]” under this law. Accordingly, similarities between the outcomes of similar legislation prove consistent intent to destroy…show more content…
The top-level of government, and their public statements, form this genocidal context. Notably, key facilitators of policy must demonstrate a purposeful intent to commit the crime in order to establish an ulterior intent. Collective statements from individuals at the top-level of government emphasises the relationship between popular ideas of biological absorption and the formation of policy. The minutes of the Conference of Commonwealth and State Aboriginal Authorities in 1937 stresses that this theory was integral to broad Indigenous policy. These key facilitators agreed that “all efforts should be directed” to the absorption of Indigenous people, and that there should be a “uniformity of legislation” across States to achieve this outcome. As a result, this consensus links to the purpose of individuals within government. For example, Chief Protector Neville’s statements in favour of biological absorption likened the removal of children to the “application of the surgeon’s knife”. This confirms ulterior intent, within government, to use legislation as a tool to commit the act of genocide. The wide belief in biological absorption at the top-level supports the existence of purpose-based intent. Furthermore, implicit reference to this theory highlights how child removal policy “blurs the boundaries” between cultural and physical destruction. Due to this, this ulterior intent…show more content…
This allows for a determination of the extent to which genocidal intent exists at each level of the structure. The role of purpose categorises the level of intent that any definition of genocidal intent would require at different levels of the decision-making structure. Purpose-based intent should apply to “top-level perpetrators”, and “general knowledge of the genocidal context” must exist outside of that, due to the structure of government. As discussed, the combination of legislation and correspondence indicates that there was a strong intent to commit the offence at the top-level. However, it is difficult to determine the extent to which a genocidal intent existed amongst the general population. The role of historical enquiry in this context implies that evidence may be “partial [or] inadequate”. This is particularly relevant in relation to forms of genocide that do not inflict direct physical harm, such as the removal of children. Windschuttle suggests that this highlights the failure of similar evidence to convince the High Court of Australia to define the removal of mixed-race children as an act of genocide. As such, it is important to note Windschuttle’s disregard towards oral or secondary sources in historical study. It remains necessary to accept these
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