n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Civil liberties versus military necessity : lessons from the jurisprudence emanating from the classification and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II




Against the backdrop of a climate of fear and tension that has gripped the world since the events of 11 September 2001, as well as the legal and policy decisions being reeled out by the United States government in tackling perceived and real enemies, it becomes salutary for scholars and policymakers to reflect on the historical parallels and lessons that stand to be learned from the past. This article explores the legal and policy framework that led to the internment of some 120 000 Japanese-Americans amidst the climate of fear and tension prevalent during the World War II. Extrapolating from the critical jurisprudence emanating from the war stretching even long after the cessation of hostilities, this article attempts to highlight some of the core considerations in determining the boundaries of civil liberties and military necessity, accentuating the need for the demystification of fear, even in the ongoing state-led responses to real and imagined threats of terrorism.


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