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Punishment for Genocide – Exploratory Analysis of ICTR Sentencing

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The sentencing practice of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is a relatively neglected topic in academic discussions. The few empirical studies on sentencing of international crimes have focused primarily on the sentencing practice of its 'sister court', the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Unlike ICTY defendants, almost all ICTR defendants have been convicted of and sentenced for genocide – arguably the most serious international crime. This empirical study examines the sentencing practice of the ICTR and analyses the relationship between sentence severity and the primary consideration in sentencing – crime gravity. The relevant principles stemming from ICTR case law are reviewed, followed by an examination of the interrelationship between sentence severity and factors relating to crime gravity, such as category of crime, scale of crime and the form and degree of a defendant's involvement in the crime. The ICTR judges appear in most cases to follow the main principles emphasized in their case law, with sentences gradated in line with the increasing seriousness of defendants' crimes and their culpability.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;, Email:; 2: Faculty of Law, Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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