Germany approved a draft law allowing sexual violence in conflict zones to be classified as War Crime.
On Wednesday, the German government allowed the existing list of war crimes to include sexual enslavement, assault, and forced pregnancy termination and be labelled as a crime against humanity.
The move, led by the centre-left coalition, asked for an amendment to Germany’s criminal code enabling the country to take part in investigations of crimes executed abroad under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”.
The proposal to establish and change the existing framework of crimes in conflicted zones encompasses violence that results in the termination of forced pregnancy and assault on women. Lisa Paus, the German Family and Women’s Affairs Minister, said that the barbaric act of raping and sexually violating women in war zones is used as a tactic worldwide.
“Sexual violence, primarily against women, has long been used in conflict worldwide by terrorists, systematically in armed conflicts and as a tactical weapon”, she added.
Although the new legislation is still pending parliamentary approval, the ongoing accounts of sexual acts against women in the Russia-Ukraine conflict add more substance to the passing law.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the liberal Free Democrats addresses the relevance of international law in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its aggression in the conflicted areas.
Further in the hearing process, the Social Democrats, the third party in the ruling coalition, greatly emphasised the historical significance of the legal reform, especially in the matter of protecting LGBTQ people in war zones. The 1998 Rome Statute and recognition of ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ in the International Criminal Code (ICC) have also been pointed out.
The war scenario has been recorded to have more than 50 categories, including murder, torture, hostage-taking, rape, and child abuse.
Germany’s History of Prosecuting Crimes under International Law
Germany has a long history and is referred to as a ‘champion’ of international criminal justice with universal jurisdiction.
Although it started on the wrong foot of criminal prosecution, it was not until the final third of the 20th century, in 1990, that German people started to value the necessity of international criminal law.
All cases from the failed Leipzig war crimes trial conducted after World War I and the British Zone set up by the British Military Government as a transitional factor of the German judiciary after World War II tell the story of prosecuting international crimes before German courts that started in the late 1950s.
After all the case history on Nazi atrocities, GDR injustice, Yugoslav wars, dictatorship crimes in Argentina, the prosecution scenario in the post modern world in Germany has seen a significant diversion.
However, in the modern-day scenario, some say that the case history of Germany when the actual prosecution of international crimes and law began was on June 30, 2002.
The Syrian conflict is one of the cases of utilising universal jurisdiction in the matter of holding a committee abroad. This rule of conduct has allowed countries to investigate crimes of exceptional substance on an individual scale. The war crimes and genocide happening in any country thus come under the radar of the above-mentioned trials.
In the recent data on the Russian-Ukraine conflict, US investigators stated in March that Moscow was responsible for most of the war crimes, such as attacks on civilians, infrastructure, and killings, torture, and rape of the Ukrainian people.
However, in the matter of the pending law, the new legislation will allow victims of the conflicted areas to have the opportunity to participate in criminal trials as co-plaintiffs, says Lisa Paus.