Chapter 20: Fact-finding by international human rights institutions and criminal prosecution
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While fulfilling their monitoring and adjudicatory functions, international human rights (HR) institutions are increasingly confronted with situations of armed conflict characterized by lack of oversight by domestic authorities. In some instances, fact-finding hearings and on-the-spot investigations conducted by HR mechanisms have made a considerable contribution towards dispelling the factual uncertainties that usually shroud the conduct of military operations, during which violations of the ‘Hague law’ are allegedly committed. The aim of international HR procedures is not to judge the guilt or innocence of individuals. Accordingly, they adopt standards of proof less rigorous than those used in criminal proceedings, such that their findings cannot be regarded as proof of individual culpability. Notwithstanding, HR investigations can produce a collection of accurate information, which can pave the way for subsequent criminal investigation, prosecution and punishment of responsible individuals.

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