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Analysis of the punishments applicable to international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide) in domestic law and practice

30-06-2008 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 870

This analysis of the punishments applicable to international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide) covers 64 countries. The sample is satisfactory in terms of geographical distribution and covers countries with a Romano-Germanic (civil law) tradition and others with a common law tradition.

 

 
The relevant legislation and case law of these States, where such exists and is available, have been studied in order to examine as accurately as possible the punishments applied or applicable by the competent courts. For each of the countries examined, the following questions were explored:

  - the main laws applicable;
  - the texts of heads of indictment where they are provided for in the laws;
  - the persons targeted;
  - the competent court(s);
  - what provision is made in respect of command responsibility;
  - what provision is made regarding the exclusion of the ‘‘superior orders’’ defence;
  - the scales of punishments applicable;
  - applicable attenuating and aggravating circumstances;
  - the objectives of the punishment.

  Detailed tables by country and region have prepared and are available at the Advisory Service of the ICRC. The main observations concerning the punishments applicable to these crimes are summarized below.  


 
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