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Research Handbook on the International Penal System

Research Handbook on the International Penal System

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Róisín Mulgrew and Denis Abels

Drawing on the expertise and experience of contributors from a wide range of academic, professional and judicial backgrounds, this handbook critically analyses the laws, policies and practices that govern detention, punishment and the enforcement of sentences in the international criminal justice context. Comprehensive and innovative, it also explores broader normative questions related to international punishment and makes recommendations for the international penal system’s development.

Chapter 7: Judicial cross-referencing in the sentencing practice of international(ized) criminal courts and tribunals

Annika Jones

Subjects: law - academic, criminal law and justice, human rights, public international law


The statutes of international(ized) criminal courts and tribunals have given judges a significant degree of discretion in determining the sentences to be imposed on individuals found guilty of the commission of international crimes. Even the highly detailed ICCSt offers just ‘a few laconic provisions establishing the maximum available sentence and, by and large, leaving the determination in specific cases to the judges’. Judges have been left to determine, inter alia, the specific goals and objectives to be achieved through the sentencing process, the principles that govern the determination of sentences by international(ized) courts and tribunals, the full range of factors that should be taken into account in the sentencing process and the weight to be given to them. As judges have encountered these issues they have shown a tendency to refer not only to their own previous decisions, but also to the decisions of other international(ized) and domestic criminal courts and tribunals, and to do so with considerable frequency. The tendency of judges to refer to external jurisprudence on sentencing issues can be viewed as part of a broad, and growing, interaction between various international(ized), regional and domestic courts and tribunals, both within and beyond the field of international criminal law.

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