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Germany

Explaining the Code of Crimes Against International Law

Germany's Code of Crimes Against International Law is a unique piece of legislation that allows Germany to prosecute crimes against international law anywhere in the world.

The law has been in effect since July 2002 and was implemented in response to the formation of the International Criminal Court, which became operative at the same time.

The law is meant to enable Germany to prosecute all crimes against humanity.

"Regardless of the law of the place of commission, the German criminal law is also applicable to … acts committed outside of Germany," the law reads.

While the law could be interpreted as an obligation to act in cases of crimes against international law, a clause leaves it up to prosecutors to decide whether alleged crimes should be brought before a German court.

Prosecution can be dropped in cases where neither the victim nor the perpetrator of a crime are German citizens. If the accused is not in Germany nor can be expected to come to Germany, prosecution can also be dropped.

Germany's Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries justified these limitations by saying that Germany should not act as a "global policeman" by prosecuting all crimes against international law regardless of where they have been committed.

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