I believe that it is correct and just to punish war criminals for their actions. I believe that it is only right that someone who has ordered a genocide operation such should serve a very harsh punishment despite the fact that it is unlikely that any punishment that can be given will fully compensate the genocide itself. I also believe that dictators who are found guilty of carrying out a mass genocide should be stripped of their human rights and given as harsh possible punishment. This is one instance I would say that it would perhaps be correct to use torture, although its usage would be determined entirely by the circumstances and the severity of the war crime. For instance I would have no qualms about using torture as a punishment for those responsible for the holocaust during the Second World War.
To me it seems only logical that war criminals should be punished as it must be made clear that such actions are completely unacceptable, I see no reason for why they should not be punished as they are no different to any other criminals in my opinion and so they should serve their punishment duly.
However I only believe that what I have said above should only apply to very serious war crimes and their culprits and those who conduct them such as genocide. If a soldier out on a battlefield refuses to conduct an order given to him as he sees it as immoral, for instance if he refuses to shoot an innocent civilian who refuses to get out of the way, a lesser punishment should be sort out. I certainly do not believe that this type of war criminal should be tortured or given capital punishment but none the less they should be punished in my opinion. The reason for me seeing things this way is due to the fact that they should have expected such an occurrence whilst they were in the process of signing up for the army, they would have expected to follow orders and would have taken an oath to obey, and so refusal to do this is inappropriate. In the instance of refusing to open fire on a civilian I would sympathise with the soldier but would accept that he would be punished. I myself would also refuse to shoot a civilian, but I also would have foreseen this circumstance and would not have joined the army in the first place. If you join the army you have a responsibility to follow orders and so this should be the case in my opinion.
An exception I would make to this ruling is if a soldier was ordered to do something truly horrific such as rape someone or kill a child I would say that they should not be punished as this sort of action is not appropriate in any circumstances to me. Although such an instance is probably unlikely I would say that it would be a huge miss-carriage of justice if a so-called “war criminal” were to be punished if they failed to obey an order to rape or kill children or suchlike.
To conclude I would say that punishing war criminals is justified in certain situations and definitely not in others, situation ethics would have to be applied and every war criminal would have to be dealt with differently whilst attempting to work out a punishment for them if it was necessary. Although I do believe for major war criminals that punishment should be carried out and in some cases be as severe as possible.