Homicidal violence during foreign military missions - prevention and legal issues
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AbstractObjectives. The study involved Nigerian soldiers engaged in peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Yugoslavia. Using case illustrations, the study sought to describe patterns of homicidal violence among soldiers from the same country or soldiers from allied forces, and to suggest possible reasons for the attacks. Design and setting. Nigeria was actively involved in peacekeeping missions in Liberia between 1990 and 1996. During this period, intentional homicidal attacks occurred among the Nigerian military personnel. Post- homicidal interviews conducted among the perpetrators were combined with evidence obtained at military courts to produce the case studies. Subjects. Six Nigerian military personnel who attacked other Nigerians or soldiers from allied forces, with homicidal intent. Results. Possible predisposing and precipitating factors for these attacks were highlighted. The possibility of recognising these factors before embarking on overseas missions was discussed, so that preventive measures could be instituted as far as possible. Finally, medico-legal implications of homicide in the military were discussed. Conclusions. A certain degree of pre-combat selection is essential to exclude soldiers with definite severe psychopathology. A clearly defined length of duty in the mission areas and adequate communication with home could reduce maladjustment. Health personnel deployed to mission areas should be very conversant with mental health issues so that early recognition of psychological maladjustment is possible.