Not a week goes by without someone accusing somebody of some human-rights violation. The accusers are politicians, journalists, and speakers from organizations committed to improving moral conduct in the world of states; generally they reside in the free West. The accused are generally politicians somewhere else, foreign governments, and “self-appointed” rulers. The court expected to take up the charge is primarily the international democratic public, i.e., more of an imagined judge, whose penal power consists in defaming the accused. When state powers capable of asserting themselves worldwide act as prosecutor, they not infrequently go ahead and declare themselves to be both judge and executor of their verdicts, which include quite harsh penalties. The club of European sovereigns and the U.N. in New York have additionally set up special courts that take up many an official action for human-rights violations in perfect legal form. The substance of the accusations is the great variety of more or less brutal acts that a ruling power commits against its subjects.
So how to judge such cases?