n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - The implications of the emerging jurisprudence in international criminal law for penal regimes in post-independent Africa

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



The establishment of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in 1993 and 1994 respectively and the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998 were heralded as landmarks in the development of international criminal law. As has been the case with international law generally, it is expected that the jurisprudence of these tribunals will influence the development of domestic penal systems. However, for these tribunals to gain credibility and achieve consistency, their operations and practices, especially those relating to penalties, must be structured by human rights standards. It is argued that African penal systems have a lot to learn from these tribunals regarding the range of permissible penalties for international and ordinary crimes, objectives of punishment and sentencing principles. However, it is contended that some of the principles developed by these tribunals thus far are not consistent with human rights and may be interpreted to justify harsh penalties, which are already applicable in some African criminal justice systems.

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