Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of
Practice Relating to Rule 151. Individual Responsibility
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Military Manual (1988) provides that “parties to the conflict … are authorized and have the duty to invoke criminal responsibility” with respect to personnel of their own and enemy armed forces who commit violations of IHL.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Criminal Offences against the Nation and State Act (1945) provides for the punishment of “any person who commits a war crime, i.e., who during the war or the enemy occupation acted as an instigator or organizer, or who … assisted or otherwise was the direct executor of [one of the acts listed thereunder]”.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Penal Code (1976), as amended in 2001, in a chapter entitled “Criminal acts against humanity and international law”, provides for a list of punishable acts committed by “any person” and some of them “during war, armed conflict (or occupation)”, such as: “war crimes against civilians” (Article 142); “war crimes against the wounded and the ill” (Article 143); “war crimes against prisoners of war” (Article 144); “unlawful killing and wounding of the enemy” (Article 146); “unlawful seizure of belongings from the killed and wounded in a theatre of war” (Article 147); “use of prohibited means of combat” (Article 148); “harming a parlementaire” (Article 149); “cruel treatment of the wounded, the ill and prisoners of war” (Article 150); “unjustified delay in the repatriation of prisoners of war” (Article 150-a); “destruction of cultural and historic monuments” (Article 151); and “misuse of international emblems” (Article 153).
A commentary on the Code’s provisions emphasizes that these crimes can be committed in time of war, armed conflict (or occupation).
The Report on the Practice of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia notes that the term “armed conflict” in this context should be interpreted as including internal conflicts.
In 1950, during a debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the International Law Commission’s work on the Nuremberg Principles, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia stated: “All civilized nations considered that the principles recognized in the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal were principles of positive international law which all States should respect.”
In Order No. 985-1/91 issued in 1991, the Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav People’s Army stated: “War crimes and other grave breaches of norms of law on warfare are serious criminal offences and call for criminal liability of all perpetrators.”