Term

Intertemporal principle

According to the principle of intertemporality, a legal question has to be assessed on the basis of the laws in effect at the relevant time. This is aimed at ensuring legal certainty and is thus in many cases desirable. However, the application of this principle can sometimes mean, for example, that crimes committed during the colonization of Africa and South America are assessed not in line with today's legal standards but rather in accordance with the racist and discriminating laws of the colonizing powers of the time.

German courts recognize exceptions to the application of this principle in some constellations, specifically to avoid the application of certain Nazi-era laws or the laws of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). In other areas, including when it comes to the legal classification of colonial crimes, historical injustices continue to be concealed or legitimized through the application of the principle of intertemporality.

Institute

Colonial repercussions: Germany and Namibia

Activism & Arts

In the early 20th, today’s Namibia was a German colony. The Namibian population was massively and systematically discriminated against. Oppression, violence and land grabbing were widespread. ECCHR is working to address the German genocide in Namibia and Germany’s colonial past.

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(Post)colonial injustice and legal interventions

Research & Academia

The development of international law is closely interwoven with European colonialization. Colonial violence was frequently covered up and injustice developed into a legal system. With the “Koloniales Erbe/Colonial Repercussions” event series, ECCHR examined the structures of colonial power relations, which continue to impact on science, art and society today.

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New perspectives on the law: Decolonial legal critique and practice

Research & Academia

The anthology Dekoloniale Rechtskritik und Rechtspraxis, which will be published by Nomos Verlag in August 2020, is the first volume to collect fundamental texts on decolonial legal theory. Interdisciplinary theoretical approaches by scholars such as Antony Anghie, Martti Koskenniemi, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui and Makau Mutua are complied in German for the first time.

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Crimes during liberation wars: The Lumumba murder

Research & Academia

The criminal investigation into Lumumba’s assassination is part of a broader context of structural impunity for the crimes committed by European colonial powers during decolonization. While the long-term effects of colonization persist, direct accountability is rarely possible.