I am sure that a great many know of this Tribunal and its historical impact on the world by the mere formation of such a body, with the support of a truly United Nations. Most are aware of the reasons for this panel’s coming into being as a result of the atrocities committed during World War Two. But as I have referenced this in many articles, I feel that some are not fully aware of the rules that empowered and governed the proceedings this judicial body worked within, or, the mandate to wit they were charged. I now present the charter for your review.
CHARTER OF THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL
I. CONSTITUTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL
Article 1. In pursuance of the Agreement signed on the 8th day of August 1945 by the Government of the United States of America, the Provisional-Government of the French Republic, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, there shall be established an International Military Tribunal (hereinafter called “the Tribunal”) for the just and prompt trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis.
Article 2. The Tribunal shall consist of four members, each with an alternate. One member and one alternate shall be appointed by each of the Signatories. The alternates shall, so far as they are able, be present at all sessions of the Tribunal. In case of illness of any member of the Tribunal or his incapacity for some other reason to fulfill his functions, his alternate shall take his place.
Article 3. Neither the Tribunal, its members nor their alternates can be challenged by the Prosecution, or by the defendants or their counsel. Each Signatory may replace its member of the Tribunal by his alternate for reasons of health or for other good reasons, except that no replacement may take place during a Trial, other than by an alternate.
(a) The presence of all four members of the Tribunal or the alternate for any absent member shall be necessary to constitute the quorum.
(b) The members of the Tribunal shall, before any trial begins, agree among themselves upon the selection from their number of a President, and the President shall hold office during that trial, or as may otherwise be agreed by a vote of not less than three members. The principle of rotation of presidency for successive trials is agreed. If, however, a session of the Tribunal takes place on the territory of one of the four signatories,’ the representative ‘of that Signatory on the Tribunal shall preside.
(c) Save as aforesaid the Tribunal shall take decisions by a majority vote and in case the votes are evenly divided, the vote of the President shall be decisive: provided always that convictions and sentences shall only be imposed by affirmative votes of at least three members of the Tribunal.
Article 5. In case of need and depending on the number of the matters to be tried, other Tribunals may be set up; and the establishment, functions, and procedure of each Tribunal shall be identical, and shall be governed by this Charter.
II. JURISDICTION AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES
Article 6. The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.
The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:
(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a Common Plan or Conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(b) WAR CRIMES: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
(c) CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war,* or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated. Leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan:
[* Comma substituted in place of semicolon by Protocol of 6 October 1945.]
Article 7. The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.
Article 8. The fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determine that justice so requires.
Article 9. At the trial of any individual member of any group or organization the Tribunal may declare (in connection with any act of which the individual may be convicted) that the group or organization of which the individual was a member was a criminal organization.
After receipt of the Indictment the Tribunal shall give such notice as it thinks fit that the Prosecution intends to ask the Tribunal to make such declaration and any member of the organization will be entitled to apply to the Tribunal for leave to be heard by the Tribunal upon the question of the criminal character of the organization. The Tribunal shall have power to allow or reject the application. If the application is allowed, the Tribunal may direct in what manner the applicants shall be represented and heard.
Article 10. In cases where a group or organization is declared criminal by the Tribunal, the competent national authority of any Signatory shall have the right to bring individuals to trial for membership therein before national, military, or occupation courts. In any such case the criminal nature of the group or organization is considered proved and shall not be questioned.
Article 11. Any person convicted by the Tribunal may be charged before a national, military, or occupation court, referred to in Article 10 of this Charter, with a crime other than of membership in a criminal group or organization and such court may, after convicting him, impose upon him punishment independent of and additional to the punishment imposed by the. Tribunal for participation in the criminal activities of such group or organization.
Article 12. The Tribunal shall have the right to take proceedings against a person charged with crimes set out in Article 6 of this Charter in his absence, if he has not been found or if the Tribunal, for any reason, finds it necessary, in the interests of justice, to conduct the hearing in his absence.
Article 13. The Tribunal shall draw up rules for its procedure. These rules shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter.
III. COMMITTEE FOR THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS
Article 14. Each Signatory shall appoint a Chief Prosecutor for the investigation of the charges against and the prosecution of major war criminals.
The Chief Prosecutors shall act as a committee for the following purposes:
(a) to agree upon a plan of the individual work of each of the Chief Prosecutors and his staff,
(b) to settle the final designation of major war criminals to be tried by the Tribunal,
(c) to approve the Indictment and the documents to be submitted therewith,
(d) to lodge the Indictment and the accompanying documents with the Tribunal,
(e) to draw up and recommend to the Tribunal for its approval draft rules of procedure, contemplated by Article 13 of this Charter. The Tribunal shall have power to accept, with or without amendments, or to reject, the rules so recommended. The Committee shall act in all the above matters by a majority vote and shall appoint a Chairman as may be convenient and in accordance with the principle of rotation: provided that if there is an equal division of vote concerning the designation of a defendant to be tried by the Tribunal, or the crimes with which he shall be charged, that proposal will be adopted which was made by the party which proposed that the particular defendant be tried, or the particular charges be preferred against him.
Article 15. The Chief Prosecutors shall individually, and acting in collaboration with one another, also undertake the following duties:
(a) investigation, collection, and production before or at the Trial of all necessary evidence,
(b) the preparation of the Indictment for approval by the Committee in accordance with paragraph (c) of Article 14 hereof,
(c) the preliminary examination of all necessary witnesses and of the defendants,
(d) to act as prosecutor at the Trial,
(e) to appoint representatives to carry out such duties as may be assigned to them,
(f) to undertake such other matters as may appear necessary to them for the purposes of the preparation for and conduct of the Trial. It is understood that no witness or defendant detained by any Signatory shall be taken out of the possession of that Signatory without its assent.
IV. FAIR TRIAL FOR DEFENDANTS
Article 16. In order to ensure fair trial for the defendants, the following procedure shall be followed:
(a) The Indictment shall include full particulars specifying in detail the charges against the defendants. A copy of the Indictment and of all the documents lodged with the Indictment, translated into a language which he understands, shall be furnished to the defendant at a reasonable time before the Trial.
(b) During any preliminary examination or trial of a defendant he shall have the right to give any explanation relevant to the charge* made against him.
(c) A preliminary examination of a defendant and his trial shall be conducted in, or translated into, a language which the defendant understands.
(d) A defendant shall have the right to conduct his own defense before the Tribunal or to have the assistance of counsel.
(e) A defendant shall have the right through himself or through his counsel to present evidence at the Trial in support of his defense, and to cross-examine any witness called by the Prosecution.
V. POWERS OF THE TRIBUNAL AND CONDUCT OF THE TRIAL
Article 17. The Tribunal shall have the power:
(a) to summon witnesses to the Trial and to require their attendance and testimony and to put questions to them,
(b) to interrogate any defendant,
(c) to require the production of documents and other evidentiary Material,
(d) to administer oaths to witnesses,
(e) to appoint officers for the carrying out of any task designated by the Tribunal including the power to have evidence taken on commission.
Article 18. The Tribunal shall:
(a) confine the Trial strictly to an expeditious hearing of the issues raised by the charges,
(b) take strict measures to prevent any action which will cause unreasonable delay, and rule out irrelevant issues and statements of any kind whatsoever,
(c) deal summarily with any contumacy, imposing appropriate punishment, including exclusion of any defendant or his counsel from some or all further proceedings, but without prejudice to the determination of the charges. .
Article 19. The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence. It shall adopt and apply to the greatest possible extent expeditious and non-technical procedure, and shall admit any evidence which it deems to have probative value.
Article 20. The Tribunal may require to be informed of the nature of any evidence before it is offered so that it may rule upon the relevance thereof.
Article 21. The Tribunal shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice thereof. It shall also take judicial notice of official governmental documents and reports of the United Nations, including the acts and documents of the committees set up in the various Allied countries for the investigation of war crimes, and the records and findings of military or other Tribunals of any of the United Nations.
Article 22. The permanent seat of the Tribunal shall be in Berlin. The first meetings of the members of the Tribunal and of the Chief Prosecutors shall be held at Berlin in a place to be designated by the Control Council for Germany. The first trial shall be held at Nuremberg, and any subsequent trials shall be held at such places as the Tribunal may decide.
Article 23. One or more of the Chief Prosecutors may take part in the prosecution at each trial. The function of any Chief Prosecutor may be discharged by him personally, or by any person or persons authorized by him.
The function of counsel for a defendant may be discharged at the defendant’s request by any counsel professionally qualified to conduct cases before the Courts of his own country, or by any other person who may be specially authorized thereto by the Tribunal.
Article 24. The proceedings at the Trial shall take the following course:
(a) The Indictment shall be read in court.
(b) The Tribunal shall ask each defendant whether he pleads “guilty” or “not guilty”.
(c) The Prosecution shall make an opening statement.
(d) The Tribunal shall ask the Prosecution and the Defense what evidence (if any) they wish to submit to the Tribunal, and the Tribunal shall rule upon the admissibility of any such evidence.
(e) The witnesses for the Prosecution shall be examined and after that the witnesses for the Defense. Thereafter such rebutting evidence as may be held by, the Tribunal to be admissible shall be called by either the Prosecution or the Defense.
(f) The Tribunal may put any question to any witness and to any defendant, at any time.
(g) The Prosecution and the Defense shall interrogate and may cross-examine any witnesses and any defendant who gives testimony.
(h) The Defense shall address the Court.
(i) The Prosecution shall address the Court.
(j) Each Defendant may make a statement to the Tribunal.
(k) The Tribunal shall deliver judgment and pronounce sentence.
Article 25. All official documents shall be produced, and all court proceedings conducted, in English, French, and Russian, and in the language of the defendant. So much of the record and of the proceedings may, also be translated into the language of any country in which the Tribunal is sitting, as the Tribunal considers desirable in the interests of justice and public opinion.
VI. JUDGMENT AND SENTENCE
Article 26. The judgment of the Tribunal as to the guilt or the innocence of any defendant shall give the reasons on which it is based, and shall be final and not subject to review.
Article 27. The Tribunal shall have the right to impose upon a defendant on conviction, death or such other punishment as shall be determined by it to be just.
Article 28. In addition to any punishment imposed by it, the Tribunal shall have the right to deprive the convicted person of any stolen property and order its delivery to the Control Council for Germany.
Article 29. In case of guilt, sentences shall be carried out in accordance with the orders of the Control Council for Germany, which may at any time reduce or otherwise alter the sentences, but may not increase the severity thereof. If the Control Council for Germany, after any defendant has been convicted and sentenced, discovers fresh evidence which, in its opinion, would found a fresh charge against him, the Council shall report accordingly to the Committee established under Article 14 hereof, for such action as they may consider proper, having regard to the interests of justice.
Article 30. The expenses of the Tribunal and of the trials shall be charged by the Signatories against the funds allotted for maintenance of the Control Council for Germany.
PROTOCOL RECTIFYING DISCREPANCY IN TEXT OF CHARTER
Whereas an Agreement and Charter regarding the Prosecution of War Criminals was signed in London on the 8th August 1945, in the English, French, and Russian languages; And whereas a discrepancy has been found to exist between the originals of Article 6, paragraph (c), of the Charter in the Russian language, on the one hand, and the originals in the English and French languages, on the other, to wit, the semicolon in Article 6, paragraph (c), of the Charter between the words “war” and “or”, as carried in the English and French texts, is a comma in the Russian text; And whereas it is desired to rectify this discrepancy:
NOW, THEREFORE, the undersigned, signatories of the said Agreement on behalf of their respective Governments, duly authorized thereto, have agreed that Article 6, paragraph (c), of the Charter in the Russian text is correct, and that the meaning and intention of the Agreement and Charter require that the said semicolon in the English text should be changed to a comma, and that the French text should be amended to read as follows:
c) LES CRIMES CONTRE L’HUMANITE: c’est i dire l’assassinat, l’extermination, la reduction en esclavage, la deportation, et tout autre acte inhumain commis contre toutes populations civiles, avant ou pendant la guerre, ou bien les persecutions pour des motifs politiques, raciapx, ou religieux, lorsque ces actes ou persecutions, qu’ils aient constitue ou non une violation du droit interne du pays ou ils ont kt6 perpetres, ont ete commis i la suite de tout crime rentrant dans la competence du Tribunal, ou en liaison avec ce crime.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Undersigned have signed the present Protocol.
DONE in quadruplicate in Berlin this 6th day of October, 1945, each in English, French, and Russian, and each text to have equal authenticity.
For the Government of the United States of America
/s/ ROBERT H. JACKSON
For the Provisional Government of the French Republic
/s/ FRANCOIS de MENTHON
For the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
/s/ HARTLEY SHAWCROSS
For the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
/s/ R. RUDENKO
RULES OF PROCEDURE
(Adopted 29 October 1945)
Rule 1. Authority to Promulgate Rules.
The present Rules of Procedure of the International Military Tribunal for the trial of the major war criminals (hereinafter called “the Tribunal“) as established by the Charter of the Tribunal dated 8 August 1945 (hereinafter called “the Charter”) are hereby promulgated by the Tribunal in accordance with the provisions of Article 13 of the Charter.
Rule 2. Notice to Defendants and Right to Assistance of Counsel.
(a) Each individual defendant in custody shall receive not least than 30 days before trial a copy, translated into a language which he understands,
(1) of the Indictment,
(2) of the Charter,
(3) of any other documents lodged with the Indictment, and
(4) of a statement of his right to the assistance of counsel as set forth in sub-paragraph (d) of this Rule, together with a list of counsel. He shall also receive copies of such rules of procedure as may be adopted by the Tribunal from time to time.
(b) Any individual defendant not in custody shall be informed of the indictment-against him and of his right to receive the documents specified in sub-paragraph (a) above, by notice in such form and manner as the Tribunal may prescribe.
(c) With respect to any group or organization as to which the Prosecution indicates its intention to request a finding of criminality by the Tribunal notice shall be given by publication in such form and manner as the Tribunal may prescribe and such publication shall include a declaration by the Tribunal that all members of the named groups or organizations are entitled to apply to the Tribunal for leave to be heard in accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of the Charter. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to confer immunity of any kind upon such members of said groups or organizations as may appear in answer to the said declaration.
(d) Each defendant has the right to conduct his own defense or to, have the assistance of counsel. Application for particular counsel shall be filed at once with the General Secretary of the Tribunal at the Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, Germany. The Tribunal will designate counsel for any defendant who fails to apply for particular counselor, where particular counsel requested is not within ten (10) days to be found or available, unless the defendant elects in writing to conduct his own defense. If a defendant has requested particular counsel who is not immediately to be found or available, such counsel or a counsel of substitute choice may, if found and available before trial, be associated with or substituted for counsel designated by the Tribunal, provided that (1)only one counsel shall be permitted to appear at the trial for any defendant, unless by special permission of the Tribunal, and (2) no delay of trial will be allowed for making such substitution or association.
Rule 3. Service of Additional Documents.
If, before the trial, the Chief Prosecutors offer amendments or additions to the Indictment, such amendments or additions, including any accompanying documents shall be lodged with the Tribunal and copies of the same, translated into a language which they each understand, shall be furnished to the defendants in custody as soon as practicable and notice given in accordance with Rule 2 (b) to those not in custody.
Rule 4. Production of Evidence for the Defense.
(a) The Defense may apply to the Tribunal for the production of witnesses or of documents by written application to the General Secretary of the Tribunal. The application shall state where the witness or document is thought to be located, together with a statement of their last known location. It shall also state the facts proposed to be proved by the witness or the document and the reasons why such facts are relevant to the Defense.
(b) If the witness or the document is not within the area controlled by the occupation authorities, the Tribunal may request the Signatory and adhering Governments to arrange for the production, if possible, of any such witnesses and any such documents as the Tribunal may deem necessary to proper presentation of the Defense.
(c) If the witness or the document is within the area controlled by the occupation authorities, the General Secretary shall, if the Tribunal is not in session, communicate the application to the Chief Prosecutors and, if they make no objection, the General Secretary shall issue a summons for the attendance of such witness or the production of such documents, informing the Tribunal of the action taken. If any Chief Prosecutor objects to the issuance of a summons, or if the Tribunal is in session, the General Secretary shall submit the application to the Tribunal, which shall decide whether are not the summons shall issue.
(d) A summons shall be served in such manner as may be provided by the appropriate occupation authority to ensure its enforcement and the General Secretary shall inform the Tribunal of the steps taken.
(e) Upon application to the General Secretary of the Tribunal, a defendant shall be furnished with a copy, translated into a language which he understands, of all documents referred to in the Indictment so far as they may be made available by the Chief Prosecutors and shall be allowed to inspect copies of any such documents as are not so available.
Rule 5. Order at the Trial.
In conformity with the provisions of Article 18 of the Charter, and the disciplinary powers therein set out, the Tribunal, acting through its President, shall provide for the maintenance of order at the Trial. Any defendant or any other person may be excluded from open sessions of the Tribunal for failure to observe and respect the directives and dignity of the Tribunal.
Rule 6 . Oaths; Witnesses.
(a) Before testifying before the Tribunal, each witness shall make such oath or declaration as is customary in his own country.
(b) Witnesses while not giving evidence shall not be present in court. The President of the Tribunal shall direct, as circumstances demand, that witnesses shall not confer among themselves before giving evidence.
Rule 7. Applications and Motions before Trial and Rulings during the Trial.
(a) All motions, applications or other requests address to the Tribunal prior to the commencement of trial shall be made in writing and filed with the General Secretary of the Tribunal at the Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, Germany.
(b) Any such motion, application or other request shall be communicated by the General Secretary of the Tribunal to the Chief Prosecutors and, if they make no objection, the President of the Tribunal may make the appropriate order on behalf of the Tribunal. If any Chief Prosecutor objects, the President may call a special session of the Tribunal for the determination of the question raised.
(c) The Tribunal, acting through its President, will rule in court upon all questions arising during the trial, such as questions as to admissibility of evidence offered during the trial, recesses, and motions; and before so ruling the Tribunal may, when necessary, order the closing or clearing of the Tribunal or take any other steps which to the Tribunal seem just.
Rule 8. Secretariat of the Tribunal.
(a) The Secretariat of the Tribunal shall be composed of a General Secretary, four Secretaries and their Assistants. The Tribunal shall appoint the General Secretary and each Member shall appoint one Secretary. The General Secretary shall appoint such clerks, interpreters, stenographers, ushers, and all such other persons as may be authorized by the Tribunal and each Secretary may appoint such assistants as may be authorized by the Member of the Tribunal by whom he was appointed.
(b) The General Secretary, in consultation with the Secretaries, shall organize and direct the work of the Secretariat, subject to the approval of the Tribunal in the event of a disagreement by any Secretary.
(c) The Secretariat shall receive all documents addressed to the Tribunal, maintain the records of the Tribunal, provide necessary clerical services to the Tribunal and its Members, and perform such other duties as may be designated by the Tribunal.
(d) Communications addressed to the Tribunal shall be delivered to the General Secretary.
Rule 9. Record, Exhibits, and Documents.
(a) A stenographic record shall be maintained of all oral proceedings. Exhibits will be suitably identified and marked with consecutive numbers. All exhibits and transcripts of the proceedings and all documents lodged with and produced to the Tribunal will be filed with the General Secretary of the Tribunal and will constitute part of the Record.
(b) The term “official documents” as used in Article 25 of the Charter includes the Indictment, rules, written motions, orders that are reduced to writing, findings, and judgments of the Tribunal. These shall be in the English, French, Russian, and German languages. Documentary evidence or exhibits may be received in the language of the document, but a translation thereof into German shall be made available to the defendants.
(c) All exhibits and transcripts of proceedings, all documents lodged with and produced to the Tribunal and all official acts and documents of the Tribunal may be certified by the General Secretary of the Tribunal to any Government or to any other tribunal or wherever it is appropriate that copies of such documents or representations as to such acts should be supplied upon a proper request.
Rule 10. Withdrawal of Exhibits and Documents.
In cases where original documents are submitted by the Prosecution or the Defense as evidence, and upon a showing (a) that because of historical interest or for any other reason one of the Governments signatory to the Four Power Agreement of 8 August 1945, or any other Government having received the consent of said four signatory Powers, desires to withdraw from the records of the Tribunal and preserve any particular original documents and (b) that no substantial injustice will result, the Tribunal shall permit photo-static copies of said original documents, certified by the General Secretary of the Tribunal, to be substituted for the originals in the records of the Court and shall deliver said original documents to the applicants.
Rule 11. Effective Date and Powers of Amendment and Addition.
These Rules shall take effect upon their approval by the Tribunal. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the Tribunal from, at any time, in the interest of fair and expeditious trials, departing from, amending, or adding to these Rules, either by general rules or special orders for particular cases, in such form and upon such notice as may appear just to the Tribunal.
THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®
SOURCE: Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Nurnberg 1945-46; Volume I (LOC)
CONTRIBUTOR: Eddy Toorall