Simon looking earnest in Preveza, Greece
Simon Shields, LLB

Advising Self-Representing
Ontario Litigants
Since 2005

contracts / tenant / small claims / welfare (ontario works) / odsp / human rights / employment / consumer /
collection agencies / criminal injuries compensation / sppa (admin law)
/ line fences / animal cruelty / dogs & cats / wild animal law (all Canada) / war / conditions of guide use

home / about / client testimonials / areas of practice / about self-representation

Your
Self-Representation
Service Options

Simon Shields, LLB




























War Crimes and Related Law (Canada)
(February 2008)

Chapter 5 - Main Offences

  1. Overview
    (a) General
    (b) Sources of Law
    (c) Structure of the Offences
  2. Genocide
    (a) Overview
    (b) CAHWCA Definition
    (c) Rome Statute Definition
    (d) Element of Offence Summary
  3. Crimes Against Humanity
    (a) Overview
    (b) CAHWCA Definition
    (c) Rome Statute Definition
    (d) Element of Offence Summary
  4. War Crimes
    (a) Overview
    (b) CAHWCA Definition
    (c) Rome Statute Definition
    (d) Element of Offence Summary
  5. Penalties
________________________________________


1. Overview

(a) General

This chapter discusses the substantive law of the three main forms of international crime: "war crimes", "genocide" and "crimes against humanity" - as they can be committed directly by act or omission.

This discussion is distinct from that of the "ancillary" forms of the offences, which include: counselling, conspiracy, accessory after the fact, aiding and abetting, attempt, and related supervisory offences. These are discussed separately in Ch.6: "Supervisory Offences" and Ch.7: "Ancillary Offences".

(b) Sources of Law

The Canadian law of international crimes is primarily set out in the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [CAHWCA], which is Canada's implementing legislation for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). As noted in Ch.1 "Overview", the CAHWCA does not "implement" or adopt the Rome Statute provisions precisely as they are set out in that treaty. The practical significance of this is that when international crimes prosecutions are brought in Canadian courts it is the Canadian law of the CAHWCA which primarily determines the applicable law. Alternatively, when charges are brought before the ICC in The Hague (Netherlands) it is the treaty rules of the Rome Statute that primarily govern the prosecution. These principles apply to determining the elements of the substantive offences as much as they do to the procedural aspects of a prosecution.

In any event, Canadian law relies heavily on the Rome Statute's codified definitions of the crimes, and both systems rely heavily on "customary international law" and "conventional international law" to fill out their meaning [CAHWCA s.4(4), 6(4)]. These concepts may most easily be thought of as the equivalent in the international legal scene of what we know as "common law" - that nebulous body of past laws, traditions, judicial statements and academic authorities that form the cultural knowledge of the legal system.

(c) Structure of the Offences

The CAHWCA divides the commission of international
crimes into those WITHIN [CAHWCA s.4] and WITHOUT of Canada [CAHWCA s.6]. There is no difference in the elements of the offences that turns on this distinction, with one minor exception (the definition of "crime against humanity" has been tweaked slightly to include PRE-WWII "customary international law" doctrine for offences committed outside of Canada [CAHWCA s.6(5)]).

Procedurally however, international crimes committed outside of Canada and occuring BEFORE the CAHWCA came into force may be prosecuted under Canadian law - while ones committed in Canada may only be prosecuted if committed since the main CAHWCA provisions came into force on 23 October 2000. This temporal distinction can get complex when considering the "supervisory" offences by "military commanders" and "superiors" (see Ch.6 "Ancillary Offences: Supervisory Offences"), which involve two-stages of offence (supervisory and main) and thus can "occur" both in and outside of Canada. For an explanation of these complexities see Ch.4: "Jurisdiction".

The offences are - unsurprisingly - indictable, which means that they follow a procedural path within Canadian courts designed for more serious offences such as murder or manslaughter.


2. Genocide

(a) Overview

The present definition of "genocide" is drawn almost verbatim from the 1948 treaty: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which obviously drew primarily on the holocaust experiences of WWII in which jews, slavs, gays and other minorities were targeted by the Germans and their allies for extermination.

(b) CAHWCA Definition

In the CAHWCA, genocide is defined as [CAHWCA s.4(3), 6(3)]:
"genocide" means an act or omission committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, an identifiable group of persons, as such, that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes genocide according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.
As noted above, the CAHWCA expressly adopts Rome Statute definitions as part of customary international law" [CAHWCA s.4(4), 6(4)]. This follows.

(c) Rome Statute Definition

Article 6 of the Rome Statute sets out the following definition and instances of "genocide":
... "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) killing members of the group;

(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
(d) Elements of the Offence Summary

The key mental element of the offence of genocide is an intent to destroy, in whole or part, an identifiable national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

The key actus reus (acts or omissions) of the offence of genocide are destruction, in whole or part, of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group by any of: killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, imposing birth-prevention measures or forcibly transferring their children to another group.

It is important to note that the intent of genocide is to destroy the "group" - in whole or part. While this CAN be achieved by killing all the individuals in it, this only one "means" to achieve this goal. "Destroy" does not necessarily mean to kill all of the members of the group, but rather to in some fashion "end" the group - therefore reducing births within the group, or removing its children from them (both non-killing methods) is also a means of committing "genocide".


3. Crimes Against Humanity

(a) Overview

The definition and substance of a "crime against humanity" is historically drawn from the 1949 Fourth Geneva convention, which focussed on the protection of civilians during war. The specific wording of the present Rome Statute andelim CAHWCA definitions expands that earlier definition.

(b) CAHWCA Definition

In the CAHWCA, a "crime against humanity" is defined as [CAHWCA s.4(3), 6(3)]:
"crime against humanity" means murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable group and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a crime against humanity according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.
As noted in the "Overview" the definition of "crime against humanity" has been tweaked slightly to include pre-WWII "customary international law" doctrine for offences committed outside of Canada [CAHWCA s.6(5)].

As noted above, the CAHWCA expressly adopts Rome Statute definitions as part of "customary international law" [CAHWCA s.4(4), 6(4)]. This follows.

(c) Rome Statute Definition

Article 7 of the Rome Statute sets out the following definition of "crime against humanity":
1. ... "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) murder;

(b) extermination;

(c) enslavement;

(d) deportation or forcible transfer of population;

(e) imprisonment or other severe deprivation of
physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules
of international law;

(f) torture;

(g) rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced
pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other
form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

(h) persecution against any identifiable group or
collectivity on political, racial, national,
ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in
paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally
recognized as impermissible under international
law, in connection with any act referred to in this
paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of
the Court;

(i) enforced disappearance of persons;

(j) the crime of apartheid;

(k) other inhumane acts of a similar character
intentionally causing great suffering, or serious
injury to body or to mental or physical health.

2. For the purpose of paragraph 1:

(a) "attack directed against any civilian population"
means a course of conduct involving the multiple
commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1
against any civilian population, pursuant to or in
furtherance of a State or organizational policy to
commit such attack;

(b) "extermination" includes the intentional infliction
of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation
of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring
about the destruction of part of a population;

(c) "enslavement" means the exercise of any or all of
the powers attaching to the right of ownership over
a person and includes the exercise of such power in
the course of trafficking in persons, in particular
women and children;

(d) "deportation or forcible transfer of population"
means forced displacement of the persons concerned
by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area
in which they are lawfully present, without grounds
permitted under international law;

(e) "torture" means the intentional infliction of
severe pain or suffering, whether physical or
mental, upon a person in the custody or under the
control of the accused; except that torture shall
not include pain or suffering arising only from,
inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;

(f) "forced pregnancy" means the unlawful confinement
of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent
of affecting the ethnic composition of any
population or carrying out other grave violations
of international law. This definition shall not in
any way be interpreted as affecting national laws
relating to pregnancy;

(g) "persecution" means the intentional and severe
deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to
international law by reason of the identity of the
group or collectivity;

(h) "the crime of apartheid" means inhumane acts of a
character similar to those referred to in paragraph
1, committed in the context of an institutionalized
regime of systematic oppression and domination by
one racial group over any other racial group or
groups and committed with the intention of
maintaining that regime;

(i) "enforced disappearance of persons" means the
arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or
with the authorization, support or acquiescence of,
a State or a political organization, followed by a
refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom
or to give information on the fate or whereabouts
of those persons, with the intention of removing
them from the protection of the law for a prolonged
period of time.

3. For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that
the term "gender" refers to the two sexes, male and
female, within the context of society. The term
"gender" does not indicate any meaning different from
the above.
(d) Elements of the Offence Summary

The mental elements of a "crime against humanity" are an intention to commit any of murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission against any civilian population or any identifiable group.

The actus reus (act or omission) is the commission of any of these acts against any civilian population or identifiable group. Note that the Rome Statute requirement that this be done in a "war" or during an "attack" is not expressly part of Canadian law, although it may be "re-introduced" into it by the adoption of "conventional international law" interpretations.

Also arguable under the same logic is that the CAHWCA definition (which is more authoritative in Canadian law) eliminates from the Rome Statute's definition requirements that the acts be done:
  • as part of a "widespread or systematic attack",

  • "involving the multiple commission of (the listed: author) acts", and

  • "pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack".
What is more certain is that the CAHWCA definition expands from the Rome Statute definition by including such acts against not only "civilian populations" - but also now "any identifiable group".

Section 2 of Article 7 of the Rome Statute (above) is essential reading as it clarifies and expands the meaning of the CAHWCA listed "acts" and as well expands "other inhumane acts or omissions" to include "enforced disappearance of persons" and "the crime of apartheid", which it also defines.

Note that any reference to gender includes only male and female.


4. War Crimes

(a) Overview

The development of the modern "war crime" in international law has long history going back in treaties before 1900 (the Hague Conventions). It is heavily informed by all four Geneva Conventions (which dealt respectively with: wounded in battle, wounded at sea, prisoners of war, and protection of civilian populations during war). Much of the content of the Fourth Geneva Convention is now included within the definitions of both "war crimes" (discussed here) and "crimes against humanity" (discussed immediately above).

As will be seen, the present definition of "war crimes" is quite detailed, and is clarified to cover not only situations where war is formally declared, but now to include more broadly: "armed conflicts".

(b) CAHWCA Definition

In the CAHWCA, a "war crime" is defined as [CAHWCA s.4(3), 6(3)]:
"war crime" means an act or omission committed during an armed conflict that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a war crime according to customary international law or conventional international law applicable to armed conflicts, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.
As noted above, the CAHWCA expressly adopts the Rome Statute definitions as part of "customary international law" [CAHWCA s.4(4), 6(4)]. This follows.

(c) Rome Statute Definition

Article 8, para 2 of the Rome Statute sets out the following definition of "war crimes" (these are summarized below in sub-sec.(d): "Elements of the Offence Summary"):
2. For the purpose of this Statute, "war crimes" means:

(a) grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12
August 1949, namely, any of the following acts
against persons or property protected under the
provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention:

(i) wilful killing;

(ii) torture or inhuman treatment, including
biological experiments;

(iii) wilfully causing great suffering, or serious
injury to body or health;

(iv) extensive destruction and appropriation of
property, not justified by military necessity
and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;

(v) compelling a prisoner of war or other
protected person to serve in the forces of a
hostile Power;

(vi) wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other
protected person of the rights of fair and
regular trial;

(vii) unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful
confinement;

(viii) taking of hostages.

(b) other serious violations of the laws and customs
applicable in international armed conflict, within
the established framework of international law,
namely, any of the following acts:

(i) intentionally directing attacks against the
civilian population as such or against
individual civilians not taking direct part
in hostilities;

(ii) intentionally directing attacks against
civilian objects, that is, objects which are
not military objectives;

(iii) intentionally directing attacks against
personnel, installations, material, units or
vehicles involved in a humanitarian
assistance or peacekeeping mission in
accordance with the Charter of the United
Nations, as long as they are entitled to the
protection given to civilians or civilian
objects under the international law of armed
conflict;

(iv) intentionally launching an attack in the
knowledge that such attack will cause
incidental loss of life or injury to
civilians or damage to civilian objects or
widespread, long-term and severe damage to
the natural environment which would be
clearly excessive in relation to the concrete
and direct overall military advantage
anticipated;

(v) attacking or bombarding, by whatever means,
towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which
are undefended and which are not military
objectives;

(vi) killing or wounding a combatant who, having
laid down his arms or having no longer means
of defence, has surrendered at discretion;

(vii) making improper use of a flag of truce, of
the flag or of the military insignia and
uniform of the enemy or of the United
Nations, as well as of the distinctive
emblems of the Geneva Conventions, resulting
in death or serious personal injury;

(viii) the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the
Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian
population into the territory it occupies, or
the deportation or transfer of all or parts
of the population of the occupied territory
within or outside this territory;

(ix) intentionally directing attacks against
buildings dedicated to religion, education,
art, science or charitable purposes, historic
monuments, hospitals and places where the
sick and wounded are collected, provided they
are not military objectives;

(x) subjecting persons who are in the power of an
adverse party to physical mutilation or to
medical or scientific experiments of any kind
which are neither justified by the medical,
dental or hospital treatment of the person
concerned nor carried out in his or her
interest, and which cause death to or
seriously endanger the health of such person
or persons;

(xi) killing or wounding treacherously individuals
belonging to the hostile nation or army;

(xii) declaring that no quarter will be given;

(xiii) destroying or seizing the enemy's property
unless such destruction or seizure be
imperatively demanded by the necessities of
war;

(xiv) declaring abolished, suspended or
inadmissible in a court of law the rights and
actions of the nationals of the hostile
party;

(xv) compelling the nationals of the hostile party
to take part in the operations of war
directed against their own country, even if
they were in the belligerent's service before
the commencement of the war;

(xvi) pillaging a town or place, even when taken by
assault;

(xvii) employing poison or poisoned weapons;

(xviii) employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other
gases, and all analogous liquids, materials
or devices;

(xix) employing bullets which expand or flatten
easily in the human body, such as bullets
with a hard envelope which does not entirely
cover the core or is pierced with incisions;

(xx) employing weapons, projectiles and material
and methods of warfare which are of a nature
to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary
suffering or which are inherently
indiscriminate in violation of the
international law of armed conflict, provided
that such weapons, projectiles and material
and methods of warfare are the subject of a
comprehensive prohibition and are included in
an annex to this Statute, by an amendment in
accordance with the relevant provisions set
forth in articles 121 and 123;

(xxi) committing outrages upon personal dignity, in
particular humiliating and degrading
treatment;

(xxii) committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced
prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in
article 7, paragraph 2(f), enforced
sterilization, or any other form of sexual
violence also constituting a grave breach of
the Geneva Conventions;

(xxiii) utilizing the presence of a civilian or other
protected person to render certain points,
areas or military forces immune from military
operations;

(xxiv) intentionally directing attacks against
buildings, material, medical units and
transport, and personnel using the
distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions
in conformity with international law;

(xxv) intentionally using starvation of civilians
as a method of warfare by depriving them of
objects indispensable to their survival,
including wilfully impeding relief supplies
as provided for under the Geneva Conventions;

(xxvi) conscripting or enlisting children under the
age of fifteen years into the national armed
forces or using them to participate actively
in hostilities.

(c) in the case of an armed conflict not of an
international character, serious violations of
article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of
12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts
committed against persons taking no active part in
the hostilities, including members of armed forces
who have laid down their arms and those placed hors
de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any
other cause:

(i) violence to life and person, in particular
murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel
treatment and torture;

(ii) committing outrages upon personal dignity, in
particular humiliating and degrading
treatment;

(iii) taking of hostages;

(iv) the passing of sentences and the carrying out
of executions without previous judgement
pronounced by a regularly constituted court,
affording all judicial guarantees which are
generally recognized as indispensable.

(d) paragraph 2(c) applies to armed conflicts not of an
international character and thus does not apply to
situations of internal disturbances and tensions,
such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of
violence or other acts of a similar nature.

(e) other serious violations of the laws and customs
applicable in armed conflicts not of an
international character, within the established
framework of international law, namely, any of the
following acts:

(i) intentionally directing attacks against the
civilian population as such or against
individual civilians not taking direct part
in hostilities;

(ii) intentionally directing attacks against
buildings, material, medical units and
transport, and personnel using the
distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions
in conformity with international law;

(iii) intentionally directing attacks against
personnel, installations, material, units or
vehicles involved in a humanitarian
assistance or peacekeeping mission in
accordance with the Charter of the United
Nations, as long as they are entitled to the
protection given to civilians or civilian
objects under the international law of armed
conflict;

(iv) intentionally directing attacks against
buildings dedicated to religion, education,
art, science or charitable purposes, historic
monuments, hospitals and places where the
sick and wounded are collected, provided they
are not military objectives;

(v) pillaging a town or place, even when taken by
assault;

(vi) committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced
prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in
article 7, paragraph 2(f), enforced
sterilization, and any other form of sexual
violence also constituting a serious
violation of article 3 common to the four
Geneva Conventions;

(vii) conscripting or enlisting children under the
age of fifteen years into armed forces or
groups or using them to participate actively
in hostilities;

(viii) ordering the displacement of the civilian
population for reasons related to the
conflict, unless the security of the
civilians involved or imperative military
reasons so demand;

(ix) killing or wounding treacherously a combatant
adversary;

(x) declaring that no quarter will be given;

(xi) subjecting persons who are in the power of
another party to the conflict to physical
mutilation or to medical or scientific
experiments of any kind which are neither
justified by the medical, dental or hospital
treatment of the person concerned nor carried
out in his or her interest, and which cause
death to or seriously endanger the health of
such person or persons;

(xii) destroying or seizing the property of an
adversary unless such destruction or seizure
be imperatively demanded by the necessities
of the conflict;

(f) paragraph 2(e) applies to armed conflicts not of an
international character and thus does not apply to
situations of internal disturbances and tensions,
such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of
violence or other acts of a similar nature. It
applies to armed conflicts that take place in the
territory of a State when there is protracted armed
conflict between governmental authorities and
organized armed groups or between such groups.
(d) Elements of the Offence Summary

As is seen from above, the Canadian legal definition of "war crimes" essentially adopts the Rome Statute definition - only clarifying (largely redundantly) that it covers act and omissions committed "during an armed conflict" rather than just 'during war'. The Rome Statute in turn heavily refers and re-states terms from all four Geneva Conventions.

The constituent parts of this definition may be broken down topically by sub-paragraphs and summarized as follows [Rome Statute Art 8, para 2]:
a. Fourth Geneva Convention Armed Conflict "grave crimes" includes the following against wounded combatants, prisoners of war, civilians and otherwise protected personnel (eg. Red Cross):
  • wilful killing;
  • torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;
  • wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury, to body or health;
  • wanton destruction and appropriation of property;
  • forced military conscription of prisoners of war;
  • wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other non-combatant of a fair trial;
  • deportation and unlawful confinement
  • hostage-taking.
b. Other International Armed Conflict Violations, including:

Intentional Attacks
  • intentional attacks against civilian populations, or against individual civilian non-combatants;
  • intentional attacks against civilian objects (which are not military objectives);
  • intentional attacks against legally-protected humanitarian or peacekeeping missions
  • militarily-excessive intentional attacks with knowledge that they will result in civilian loss of life, damage to civilian objects or severe damage to the natural environment
  • attacking or bombarding undefended towns and buildings "which are not military objectives";
  • intentionally attacking cultural buildings or hospitals where they are not military objectives
  • intentionally attacking anything or anyone using Geneva Convention emblems (ie. Red Cross, Red Crescent)
Conduct of Armed Conflict
  • killing or wounding surrendered or incapacitated combatants;
  • improper use of flags of truce, enemy or UN flags or insignia, or Geneva Convention emblems - in death or serious personal injury;
  • deportation of occupants from or settlement of civilian enemy civilian populations in occupied territories;
  • killing or wounding "treacherously" enemy combatants or civilians
  • declaring that "no quarter" will be given;
  • seizure or destruction of enemy property unwarranted by the "necessities of war";
  • forced military conscription of enemy combatants or civilians against their own country;
  • employing poison or poisoned weapons;
  • employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, liquids, materials or devices;
  • using hollow-point bullets;
  • using weapons or methods of warfare which cause superfluous injury or suffering and are prohibited as specified in this treaty <*** see Statute annex and Articles 121 and 123>;
  • using civilian presence as a shield for military activities;
  • use of starvation in warfare, including impeding relief supplies;
  • use of child soldiers (under 15 years of age)
Other
  • mutilation or non-therapeutic experimentation on persons causing death or serious danger to health;
  • declaring the abolition of the legal rights of enemy combatants or civilians;
  • pillaging;
  • committing outrages upon personal dignity, humiliation or degradation;
  • sexual violence, sexual slavery or enforced prostitution, or any other Art 3 Fourth Geneva Convention offence.
c/d. Internal (Non-International) Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 3) Armed Conflict Crimes against civilians, surrendered or incapacitated combatants, namely:
  • murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, torture or other violence;
  • outrages upon personal dignity and humiliating and degrading treatment;
  • hostage-taking;
  • extra-judicial sentencing and killings.
These provisions do not apply to "internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature."

e/f. Other Internal (Non-International) (Article 3) Armed Conflict Crimes, namely:
  • intentionally attacking civilians;
  • intentionally attacking anything or anyone using Geneva Convention emblems (ie. Red Cross, Red Crescent)
  • intentional attacks against legally-protected humanitarian or peacekeeping missions
  • intentionally attacking cultural buildings or hospitals where they are not military objectives
  • pillaging;
  • sexual violence, sexual slavery or enforced prostitution, or any other Art 3 Fourth Geneva Convention offence;
  • use of child soldiers (under 15 years of age)
  • unnecessary displacement of civilians;
  • killing or wounding "treacherously" enemy combatants or civilians
  • declaring that no quarter will be given;
  • mutilation or non-therapeutic experimentation on persons causing death or serious danger to health;
  • seizure or destruction of enemy property unwarranted by the "necessities of war".
These provisions do not apply to "internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature".
Readers should take particular note whenever the war crimes offence refers to any element of intentionality, and to which acts or omissions this attaches. Where no intentional element is specified, Canadian law will normally require proof of intent to commit the "actus reus" of the crime OR at least proof of intent to commit an act or omissions which has - as a "natural consequences" - the "actus reus" of the offence.

Further, note when the definitions refer to the Geneva Conventions to further set out their meanings, as in done particularly with respect to all of Art 8, para 2(a). The Conventions are linked here for reference:

Geneva Conventions


5. Penalties

The sentence for "main" international crimes is a maximum of life imprisonment, with no prescribed minimum (which means the duration is up to the judge). However, where the basis of such an offence is at least one "intentional killing" then the minimum sentence is a life-sentence (ie. a mandatory life-sentence) [CAHWCA s.4(2),6(2),15(3); CCC 717(2)].

See Ch.10 "Penalties" for more details - especially for the impact of parole provisions on "life sentences".
Lawyer License #37308N / Website © Simon Shields 2005-2017