What Is a Typical Sentence for Genocide?

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By definition, genocide almost always involves premeditated murder, and, as such, sentences are usually extremely lengthy. For example, in May 2013, a Guatemalan court found General Efraín Montt guilty of genocide and sentenced him to 80 years in prison.

The word genocide was coined by a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin. Mr. Lemkin fled the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1941 and first used the term In 1944, combining the Greek word for race or tribe with the Latin suffix "cide," which means "to kill."

In 1946, the term genocide was included in the charter of the International Military Tribunal, which was established by the victorious allies following World War II. The Tribunal charged top Nazi officials for "crimes against humanity" following the war, but after the trials fully revealed the harrowing details of the crimes committed by the Nazis, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1946 making genocide a crime.