Is to commit a crime in a disorderly manner

International Criminal Code

General [edit]

The International Criminal Code (VStGB) punishes acts that are committed against the applicable international criminal law. Four different criminal offenses are regulated in the federal law:

Meaning and purpose of the International Criminal Code [edit]

The International Criminal Code integrates the Rome Statute into German criminal law. Without a legal basis, a perpetrator could neither be prosecuted nor punished. This gap is closed by international humanitarian law by standardizing the prerequisites for criminal prosecution, which is originally the responsibility of the Federal Public Prosecutor at the Federal Court of Justice. It is irrelevant for the persecution who committed the crime against whom and where. This is an exception in German criminal law. Offenses committed abroad or by foreigners can also be punished. However, in the interests of subsidiarity, it has to be seen whether criminal prosecution is guaranteed by the state concerned, by the International Criminal Court or another international court. In this respect, it is a fall-back responsibility.

Refraining from prosecution under the International Criminal Code [edit]

To ensure that the individual states do not pursue a crime in accordance with international law in a disorderly manner, they have issued regulations to ensure an orderly process. In Germany, Section 153f of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be observed in particular. According to this, prosecution can be dispensed with if the offense was committed abroad, the offender is not resident in Germany and this is not to be expected, the offense has no domestic connection and the state concerned guarantees a procedure. If, on the other hand, the foreign offender is in Germany, the authorities can refrain from their activities if he can either be extradited to an international court or to his home country. It is always necessary to take into account the overall event, hence the overall act. The prosecution of the crime is not based on the individual suspect or his contribution to the crime.

Overall, international criminal law plays a subordinate role numerically compared to the rest of German criminal law. Almost 50 proceedings have been conducted since it came into force in 2002 to 2018. An example of such a procedure is the case Colonel Klein. Georg Klein (1961–) was the commanding officer in the air raid on Kunduz in 2009. Under his leadership, two tankers kidnapped by Taliban fighters were bombed to protect the security forces in Kunduz from a possible attack. At the time, however, it was not known whether the Taliban had actually planned such an attack. Large numbers of civilians were killed and injured in the bombing. The proceedings initiated by the Attorney General under international criminal law for war crimes were ultimately discontinued the following year.

The role of the Geneva Conventions in terms of international criminal law

With their additional protocols, the Geneva Conventions extend international humanitarian law by creating binding rules on how people are to be protected in the event of war or national and international conflicts. A total of four Geneva Conventions with three additional protocols were signed. Today, the work comprises more than 600 articles, from which rules for dealing with the wounded and sick of the armed forces, prisoners of war and civilians have emerged. In principle, the Geneva Conventions do not in themselves provide for any punishment for violations. However, the signatory states (contracting states) have undertaken to regulate any violations of the agreements and their punishment in a law. Germany fulfilled this obligation by adopting international criminal law. In addition, the rules of international humanitarian law also enjoy constitutional protection through Article 25 of the Basic Law. The International Humanitarian Investigation Commission is responsible for violations of the agreements, but it lacks any legal powers. It therefore only works to clarify the situation, whereas criminal prosecution is subject to the states themselves.

More information [edit]

Websites [edit]

  • The Attorney General at the Federal Court of Justice, International criminal law, Karlsruhe 2019
  • The Attorney General at the Federal Court of Justice, No German investigations into the reported incidents in Abu Ghraib / Iraq, Press release 6/2005, Karlsruhe, February 10, 2005 (source 2005–2019:
  • Amnesty International, 15 years of the International Criminal Code. Germany must continue the fight against impunity, Berlin, June 29, 2017

Encyclopedia [edit]

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