The German Federal Supreme Court and the Prosecution of International Crimes Committed in the Former Yugoslavia
Posted: 29 Feb 2008
Date Written: May 2005
Since 1993, German courts have dealt with many cases concerning international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, as, for most of them, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Prosecutor did not request that German courts defer to the International Tribunal. Courts applied both the principle of universality (with regard to cases of genocide), enshrined in § 6 No. 1 of the German Criminal Code, and the doctrine of `legitimizing domestic links` between the alleged crimes and Germany. The Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) also resorted to the so-called principle of `annexed competence`, thereby extending the jurisdiction of German courts over genocide to other offences involving intentional killing. Particularly significant is the contribution made by the Federal Supreme Court with its case law. Generally speaking, it can be said that both this Court, together with the Constitutional Court, and regional courts took it upon themselves to contribute to the legalization and systematization of human rights protections at the international level, by strengthening international humanitarian law and contributing to the effectiveness of international criminal jurisdiction, not in competition, but in cooperation with international criminal tribunals.
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