Crime on the High Seas: The Senegalese Ferry Sinking and State Crime Victimization

Stephen L. Muzzatti, Ryerson University
Dawn L. Rothe, Western Michigan University

The corporately owned mass media inundates us with exploratory narratives, sensationalistic coverage, and pacification writings designed to impede inquiry or knowledge of other states, cultures, international institutions, and "disasters". Indeed, this is further exacerbated when potential news involves populations of the world that are not of "political interest" to the United States. Thus, it should not surprise us that there was scant media coverage on the world's second largest maritime disaster, the sinking of the Senegal's state run ferry, Lee Joola, killing 1863 passengers Not only did the U.S. media neglect covering Senegal's tragedy of September 26, 2002, later reports on the criminal liability of the State of Senegal and the international society were generally omitted from the daily offerings of what was deemed sellable and newsworthy. So too, sociologists and criminologists have given limited attention to this atrocious state crime, thereby failing to recognize and/or acknowledge the Le Joola Ferry disaster was not just a monad that occfurred due to immediate conditions and decisions within Senegal. We contend that the sinking was a result of a much more complex set of historical, cultural, and economic conditions that set the stage for the state of Senegal to act in a way that caused more social injury and harm than just the vast death tolls that resulted from the Le Joola sinking. Furthermore, we suggest that this was not just a state crime, but that international society had, through acts of facilitation, aided and caused the socially injurious conditions surrounding the disaster.

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Updated 05/20/2006