The Miscategorization of 'Forced Marriage' as a Crime against Humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone

In: International Criminal Law Review


This article considers the finding by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone that forced marriage is a crime against humanity. While hailed as an evolution in the prosecution of gender-based crimes, the finding is legally and factually unsound. The Chamber's decision offends the principle of legality, specifically, non-retroactivity, the prohibition on analogy, and the requirement of specificity. In addition, the Chamber misconstrued the facts and law with regards to sexual slavery in distinguishing it from forced marriage. This article critically examines each element of the Chamber's decision that forced marriage satisfies the threshold requirements to qualify as a crime against humanity.

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