War Crimes and the Conduct of Hostilities
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War Crimes and the Conduct of Hostilities

Challenges to Adjudication and Investigation

Edited by Fausto Pocar, Marco Pedrazzi and Micaela Frulli

Most charges for war crimes are brought for violations of the rules on the treatment of protected persons in armed conflict situations. However in certain cases, they are brought for serious breach of international humanitarian law rules governing the conduct of hostilities. This book seeks to address this somewhat neglected area of international criminal law.
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Chapter 20: Fact-finding by international human rights institutions and criminal prosecution

Simone Vezzani


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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