One of the aims of criminal justice is to qualify the criminal conduct and determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. International criminal justice is no exception. Yet, due to the scale of the crimes perpetrated, the time that has usually elapsed between the crimes and the trials, the particular trauma suffered by victims and witnesses, collecting reliable evidence to prove what happened and determine who was responsible is particularly difficult. Although heavily relied upon in international criminal justice, witness evidence is not always accurate: memory can be imprecise and witnesses may be subject to fear, threats or corruption. In this context, scientific evidence – including medical evidence – may prove a sound means of establishing the perpetration of the crimes, of corroborating witness evidence and of assigning individual criminal responsibility. Notwithstanding certain constraints, medical evidence has played a significant role in international criminal justice, in particular before the International Criminal Court. This contribution proposes to critically review the use of medical evidence in international criminal proceedings, both by exposing its inherent limits and by presenting its potential as a useful – even if not indispensable – evidentiary tool.
The practice at the different international criminal tribunals has shown that there is no real international criminal (customary) law, but only extrapolations from international public law, general principles of law and humanitarian law. The divide between the so-called common law and civil law systems and their differences in approach to solving legal problems make it necessary to establish an international forum for discussion and development of a common ground on which the work of the international courts can build. This is especially true with regard to the so-called “General Part” of the substantive criminal law, like forms of participation,
actus reus and
mens rea categories, defences and excuses, offence types, sentencing, enforcement etc. But also the procedural law still lacks sharp features in many aspects; the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence are still in need of interpretation. In addition, it will be helpful to the Courts to understand the societal background and effects of the law. Thus there is also a need for criminological, sociological and historical research on the issues of ICL. The
International Criminal Law Review publishes in-depth analytical research that deals with these issues. The analysis may cover: • the substantive and procedural law on the international level; • important cases from national jurisdictions which have a bearing on general issues; • criminological and sociological; and, • historical research.
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As a discipline, International Criminal Law seems to be fully emancipated from public international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Yet it does not operate in a vacuum. At the international level, the practice at the different international criminal tribunals and courts constitutes clear evidence of the synergies between these legal spheres. At the national level, International Criminal Law is increasingly becoming an integral part of the legal culture, thus interacting with substantive and procedural domestic norms. In addition, whether at the international or the national level, the practice also highlights the societal import and impact of international criminal law and justice. Anthropological, criminological, sociological, ethical and historical research on international criminal law and justice is thus key to fully grasp the discipline, in both its theoretical and practical dimensions. These blurred frontiers make it necessary to provide for a cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary academic forum to enable discussions on the interactions between international criminal law and justice and distinct legal domains, other disciplines, transitional justice mechanisms, and domestic systems. Studies in International Criminal Law follows the path drawn by the International Criminal Law Review and aims at publishing in-depth analytical research that deals with these issues in a format that will allow for both single-authored monographs and edited volumes.
Due to the heinous nature of international crimes, admissible defences in the context of international criminal justice understandably constitute an issue surrounded with controversy. Yet, while International Criminal Law precludes the use of a series of defences, it also admits that certain grounds may exclude individual criminal responsibility or mitigate punishment even in the case of the most serious international crimes. The present study thus proposes to analyse the permissibility of these defences and the availability of such grounds for excluding responsibility by drawing a comparison between Public International Law and International Criminal Law and by highlighting the differences and discrepancies between the two systems. Ultimately, this analysis aims at demonstrating that International Criminal Law, one of Public International Law's children, has now surpassed its parent to become a more sophisticated and a fairer legal and judicial system, for both the defendants and the victims.