David Crane (lawyer)

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David M. Crane is an American lawyer who was the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) from April 2002 until July 15, 2005. During his tenure, he indicted, among others, the then-President of Liberia, Charles Taylor. Crane was replaced as chief prosecutor by his deputy Desmond de Silva. On April 26, 2012, the SCSL, sitting in The Hague, convicted Taylor on various charges.

Early life and education[edit]

Crane has a law degree from Syracuse University College of Law and a M.A. in African Studies from Ohio University.


Crane spent 30 years working for the United States federal government. His former posts include Director of the Office of Intelligence Review, assistant general counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the United States Army Judge Advocate Generals School.

Crane served as Professor of Practice at Syracuse University College of Law from 2006 until 2018.[1] He taught international criminal law, international law, national security law, and the law of armed conflict.[2][3]

In conjunction with Syracuse University College of Law students, Crane started Impunity Watch, an online publication which seeks to inform the world of human rights violations in real-time. Another Syracuse University College of Law project is the Syria Accountability Project (SAP). SAP was begun in 2011 as a project of Crane’s International Legal Practice course at SU Law and now involves 50 SU law students. SAP works collectively with several international organizations to provide impartial analysis of open source materials so that President Bashar al-Assad and his subordinates—as well as members of the Syrian opposition—can be prosecuted openly and fairly under the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute, and/or Syrian Penal Law.[4]

Following his time as founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Crane and his fellow prosecutors DeSilva and Brenda Hollis traveled to The Hague, Netherlands on September 26, 2013 to witness the upholding of Taylor’s 50-year sentence by the special court’s appeals judges.[5] On October 29, 2013 Crane testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations about the possible establishment of a Syrian War Crimes Tribunal.[4] He later co-authored the 2014 Syrian detainee report.

In July 2018, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Crane to co-chair (alongside Sara Hossain and Kaari Betty Murungi) a three-person Commission of Inquiry into the killing of at least 140 Palestinians by the Israeli army.[6] Already one month later, he resigned “due to a personal circumstance that has arisen.”[7]

Other activities[edit]


  1. ^ Professor of Practice David M. Crane L’80 Announces Retirement from the College of Law Syracuse University College of Law, press release of March 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "David Crane". Retrieved 2009-06-29.[dead link]
  3. ^ "David M. Crane - Professor of Practice". Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
  4. ^ a b http://dailyorange.com/2013/10/professor-to-testify-about-syrian-war-crimes/
  5. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/26/world/africa/netherlands-charles-taylor-verdict/index.html?iref=allsearch
  6. ^ Tom Miles (July 25, 2018), U.N. picks American to lead investigation into Gaza protest killings Reuters.
  7. ^ Toby Sterling (August 23, 2018), Chair of U.N. probe of Gaza violence quits less than month into job Reuters.

External links[edit]