Outrages upon personal dignity

Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 24.03.2000 ALEKSOVSKI Zlatko

27. [...] [T]he Appeals Chamber does not interpret the observation in the ICRC Commentary on the Additional Protocols, that the term “outrages upon personal dignity” refers to acts “aimed at humiliating and ridiculing” the victim,[1] as necessarily supporting a requirement of a specific intent on the part of a perpetrator to humiliate, ridicule or degrade the victims.  The statement seems simply to describe the conduct which the provision seeks to prevent.  The Trial Chamber’s indication that the mens rea of the offence is the “intent to humiliate or ridicule” the victim[2] may therefore impose a requirement that the Prosecution was not obliged to prove and the Appeals Chamber does not, by rejecting this ground of appeal, endorse that particular conclusion.

[1] Sandoz et al. (eds.), ICRC Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (1987) (“ICRC Commentary on the Additional Protocols”), para. 3047. This statement was referred to by the Trial Chamber at paras. 55 and 56.  There is no specific reference in the ICRC Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions to the mental element required in relation to the offence of outrages upon personal dignity.

[2] Judgement, para. 56.  The Trial Chamber also observed that an outrage against personal dignity is motivated “by contempt for the human dignity of another person” - para. 56.  Although this is no doubt true, it does not make such a motivation an element of the offence to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

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ICTY Statute Article 3 Other instruments Geneva Convention III: Article 3(1)(c)
Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 12.06.2002 KUNARAC et al.
(IT-96-23 & IT-96-23/1-A)

162. Contrary to the claims of the Appellant, the Appeals Chamber considers that the Trial Chamber was not obliged to define the specific acts which may constitute outrages upon personal dignity. Instead it properly presented the criteria which it used as a basis for measuring the humiliating or degrading character of an act or omission. The Trial Chamber, referring to the Aleksovski case, stated that the humiliation of the victim must be so intense that any reasonable person would be outraged.[1]  In coming to its conclusion, the Trial Chamber did not rely only on the victim’s purely subjective evaluation of the act to establish whether there had been an outrage upon personal dignity, but used objective criteria to determine when an act constitutes a crime of outrages upon personal dignity.

163. In explaining that outrages upon personal dignity are constituted by “any act or omission which would be generally considered to cause serious humiliation, degradation or otherwise be a serious attack on human dignity”,[2] the Trial Chamber correctly defined the objective threshold for an act to constitute an outrage upon personal dignity. It was not obliged to list the acts which constitute outrages upon personal dignity.  […]

[1]   Aleksovski Trial Judgement, para 56, quoted in  Trial Judgement, para 504.

[2]   Trial Judgement, para 507 (emphasis added).

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