Sentencing Rationales and Judicial Decision Making at the International Criminal Tribunals

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Abstract

Objective. I develop a theory of judicial decision making at the international tribunals regarding the punishment of those who have committed violations of international law. Previous research has found and criticized inconsistent sentencing at the tribunals, but I argue that we can explain such sentences through a theoretical framework that outlines how judges utilize the traditional punishment rationales of retribution and deterrence.

Methods. Regression analysis is conducted using original data on the sentences passed on 132 individuals from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

Results. I find significant support for the importance of each of the sentencing rationales.

Conclusions. Tribunal judges sentence in a consistent manner premised on domestic and international rationales.

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