The article considers the actus reus and mens rea of the offence of giving false testimony when under an obligation to tell the truth in international criminal law. It relies primarily on the relevant provisions of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the ICTY, ICTR, Special Court for Sierra Leone and Special Tribunal for Lebanon, as well as on article 70(1)(a) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The article also surveys other areas of international law, such as the law of treaties, for the notions which may be indicative of a settled understanding of certain conduct comparable to false testimony, such as, for example, fraud in the conclusion of a treaty. This methodology is predicated on a premise refusing that a concept of international law automatically receives the content of a similar national law concept. The prosecution – and investigation – rates for the offence of giving false testimony are almost inexistent, notwithstanding that at least some of the allegations systematically proffered at each trial may have merit. The lack of serious legal research on this matter and inappreciably small number of such cases may be partially, or, to some extent, mutually responsible for this. This article posits that the norms punishing the witnesses for lying in the course of criminal proceedings involving the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole are not to become a dead letter. Instead, they are to serve the interests of international criminal justice as a means to assert the tribunals’ authority and to preserve both the integrity of the proceedings and their reputation.
About the author
Ekaterina Kopylova – Ph.D. сandidate in International Law, MGIMO-University
Citation: Kopylova E. (2016) Prestuplenie dachi lozhnykh pokazaniy pod prisyagoy v mezhdunarodnom ugolovnom prave [The offence of giving false testimony in international criminal law]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, no.2, pp.108–118. (In Russian).
Blackstone W. (1778) Commentaries on the Laws of England. Vol.IV, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Bohlander M. (2001) International Criminal Tribunals and Their Power to Punish Contempt and False Testimony. Criminal Law Forum, vol.12, no.1, pp.91–118.
Coke Е. (1797) The Third Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England: Concerning High Treason, and Other Pleas of the Crown and Criminal Causes, London: W.Rawlins for.
Combs N. (2010) Fact-Finding Without Facts: The Uncertain Evidentiary Foundations of International Criminal Convictions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fitzmaurice G.G. (1958) Law of Treaties: Third Report. Yearbook of International Law Commission, vol.2, pp.20–46.
Harkness J. (1996) Nuremberg and the Issue of Wartime Experiments on US Prisoners. The Journal of the American Medical Association, vol.276, no.20, pp.1672–1675.
Lillich R. (1959) The Element of Materiality in the Federal Crime of Perjury. Indiana Law Journal, vol.35, no.1, pp.1–16.
May R. (2003) The Collection and Admissibility of Evidence and the Rights of the Accused. In: Lattimer M., Sands Ph. (eds.) Justice for Crimes Against Humanity, Oxford; Portland, OR: Hart Publishing, pp.161–172.
Oosthuizen G. (2000) Of Misconduct, Contempt, False Testimony, Rule Mutations and other Interesting Powers: A Potpourri of Questions and Notes. In: May R., et al. (eds.) Essays on ICTY Procedure and Evidence in Honour of Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Dordrecht: Springer, pp.387–402.
Oraison A. (1971) Le dol dans la conclusion des traités. Revue générale de droit international public, vol.75, pp.617–673.
Pozen J. (2005–2006) Justice Obscured: the Non-disclosure of Witnesses’ Identities in ICTR Trials. New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, vol.38, no.1–2, pp.281–322.
Rensmann T. (2012) Article 49: Fraud. In: Dörr O., Schmalenbach K. (eds.) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: A Commentary, Heidelberg; New York: Springer, pp.835–848.
Talalaev A.N. (2009) Pravo mezhdunarodnyih dogovorov. T. I: Obschie voprosyi [International Law of Treaties. Vol.I: General Issues], Moscow: Zertsalo. (In Russian).
Waldock H. (1963) Law of Treaties: Second Report. Yearbook of International Law Commission, vol.2, pp.36–94.
Zahar A. (2010) The Problem of False Testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In: Klip A., Sluiter G. (eds.), Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals. Vol.25: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 2006–2007, Cambridge: Intersentia, pp.509–522.
Moscow, Shchepkina str., 8
+7 (495) 608-69-59
+7 (495) 608-66-35