IRRC No. 313

Prosecution of suspected war criminals in Switzerland

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Legal basesBy ratifying the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Switzerland undertook to supplement its national legislation accordingly. Its subsequent revision of the Swiss military penal code in 1950, though certainly prompt, was half-hearted. It was not until 1 March 1968, when a broader revision came into force, that national legislation was fully adapted to meet the requirements laid down in those Conventions:— the scope of application of Swiss criminal law was extended to cover all armed conflicts within the meaning of international conventions;— civilians who commit offences against international law in the event of armed conflict were explicitly made liable to military jurisdiction; it is thereby clearly established that Switzerland, or more specifically the military justice authorities, must prosecute violations of international humanitarian law even if the offence is committed outside Switzerland by nationals (civilians or members of the armed forces) of another country.

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