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Mutilation is a war crime under international criminal law. In International Criminal Court, a prosecution for mutilation must show the following:

  • The victim was permanently disfigured, or else an organ or appendage was permanently disabled or removed;
  • The harm was not justified by medical, dental, or hospital treatment, nor in the victim's interest;
  • The persons were hors de combat, civilians, or otherwise not taking active part in hostilities;
  • The conduct was associated with an armed conflict.

While the Model Penal Code does not expressly define mutilation as a separate offense, it does provide a general framework for classifying criminal offenses based on their seriousness and the level of harm caused. Under this framework, mutilation that involves intentionally causing bodily harm or disfigurement to another person could be considered a form of assault and, depending on how and to what extent the mutilation was committed, would likely fall under the category of aggravated assault - battery that causes serious bodily injury or bodily injury caused by a deadly weapon.

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]