Do crimes against humanity deserve a higher sentence than war crimes?

In: International Criminal Law Review

Abstract

This article examines the issue of penalties for crimes against humanity and war crimes as imposed by the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). At the moment, if for example A murders B, C, and D in the course of an armed conflict, it appears to makes no difference in terms of penalties if he is ultimately convicted under crimes against humanity or war crimes, what appears to matter is the fact that he committed murder. This approach has the effect of obscuring the criminal intention and motives for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The main reason why the ICTY has persisted with this approach, is the fact that at present there appears to be no credible index for adopting a policy of relative sentencing for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The aim of this Article therefore is to advocate a method for imposing higher penalties for crimes against humanity vis-à-vis war crimes. Furthermore, this method will rely on the argument that crimes against humanity offences e.g. murder, rape and torture when committed with a discriminatory motive should attract higher penalties than identical offences when committed as war crimes.

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