Advancing International Criminal Law: The Special Court for Sierra Leone Recognizes Forced Marriage as a ‘New’ Crime against Humanity


Frulli, Micaela. 2008. “Advancing International Criminal Law: The Special Court for Sierra Leone Recognizes Forced Marriage as a ‘New’ Crime against Humanity.” Journal of International Criminal Justice 6 (5) : 1033–42.

Author: Micaela Frulli


The Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in Brima, Kamara and Kanu recognized that forced marriages may amount to crimes against humanity, falling under the sub-heading of ‘other inhumane acts’. This decision is to be welcomed because the practice of forced marriage is not adequately described by existing categories of sexual crimes. As forced conjugality results in particular psychological and moral suffering for the victims, it is argued that this heinous practice may be more appropriately pursued as a separate crime, under a definition that describes the entirety and complexity of the criminal conduct. The SCSL decision may also be important for its impact on the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The widespread practice of forced marriage presently features in all the situations being investigated by the ICC and the inclusion in the ICC Statute of the offence of forced marriage as a separate crime against humanity could be discussed during the Review Conference in 2009.

Topics: Armed Conflict, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2008

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