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Brown, Ian (2022) 'Bringing Murderers to Justice in Late Colonial Burma.' The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 50 (6). pp. 1070-1092.

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For senior British officials in late colonial Burma, an important part of the explanation for the province’s soaring murder rate was the reluctance and often outright refusal of Burmese witnesses to murder to engage with the police and courts in bringing killers to justice. That reluctance or refusal, it was said, substantially reduced the arrest and in particular the conviction rate in murder cases, thereby weakening the deterrent impact of the law. British officials explained the reluctance or refusal in terms of alleged weaknesses in the Burmese character and social organisation. In contrast, this paper argues that the Burmese had strong reasons for failing to engage, in that they could have little confidence that the colonial police and courts would in fact bring murderers to justice. Self-help justice, revenge-killing, was a far more certain path. The final section of the paper examines a number of measures considered or implemented by the British colonial administration in the 1920s and 1930s to curb the murder count, measures which in fact merely exposed the Burma administration’s limited reach and indeed ambition in seeing murderers caught and convicted.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of History
ISSN: 03086534
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2022 12:22

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