Crime against humanity

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A crime against humanity is a term in international law that refers to acts of persecution or any large scale atrocities against a body of people, as being the criminal offence above all others.<ref name="crimesofwar">Template:Cite web</ref>

The Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum states that crimes against humanity "are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. However, murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of meriting the stigma attaching to the category of crimes under discussion."<ref name="Horton"> As quoted by Guy Horton in Dying Alive - A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section "12.52 Crimes against humanity", Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360 </ref>

Contents

[edit] First use

See also Armenian genocide

On May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Russia, jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing "a crime against humanity". This joint statement stated:

"[i]n view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres"<ref>1915 declaration

</ref>.

[edit] Nuremberg trials

Main article: Nuremberg trials

The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal was the decree that set down the laws and procedures by which the post World War II Nuremberg trials were to be conducted. The charter defined that only crimes of the European Axis Powers could be tried. Article 6 stated that the Tribunal was established for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries; paragraph 6.a defined crimes against peace, 6.b war crimes and paragraph 6.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 the domestic law of the country where perpetrated. <ref>Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 1 Charter of the International Military Tribunal contained in the Avalon Project archive at Yale Law School</ref>

In the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals it was stated:

The Tribunal therefore cannot make a general declaration that the acts before 1939 were crimes against humanity within the meaning of the Charter, but from the beginning of the war in 1939 war crimes were committed on a vast scale, which were also crimes against humanity; and insofar as the inhumane acts charged in the Indictment, and committed after the beginning of the war, did not constitute war crimes, they were all committed in execution of, or in connection with, the aggressive war, and therefore constituted crimes against humanity.<ref>Judgement : The Law Relating to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity contained in the Avalon Project archive at Yale Law School</ref>

[edit] Apartheid

Main article: Crime of apartheid

The systematic persecution of one racial group by another, such as occurred during the South African apartheid government, was recognized as a crime against humanity by the United Nations in 1976.<ref>International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid dopted and opened for signature, ratification by General Assembly resolution 3068 (XXVIII) of 30 November 1973. Entry into force 18 July 1976, in accordance with article X (10)</ref>

[edit] The International Criminal Court

In 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in The Hague (Netherlands) and the Rome Statute provides for the ICC to have jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Article 7 of the treaty stated that:

For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack<ref>Rome statute of the International Criminal Court Article 7: Crimes against humanity.</ref>:
(a) Murder;
(b) Extermination;
(c) Enslavement;
(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
(e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
(f) Torture;
(g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
(i) Enforced disappearance of persons;
(j) The crime of apartheid;
(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

According to the Commentary on the Rome Statute:<ref name="Horton"/>

[Crimes against humanity] are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. However, murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of meriting the stigma attaching to the category of crimes under discussion. On the other hand, an individual may be guilty of crimes against humanity even if he perpetrates one or two of the offences mentioned above, or engages in one such offence against only a few civilians, provided those offences are part of a consistent pattern of misbehavior by a number of persons linked to that offender (for example, because they engage in armed action on the same side or because they are parties to a common plan or for any similar reason.) Consequently when one or more individuals are not accused of planning or carrying out a policy of inhumanity, but simply of perpetrating specific atrocities or vicious acts, in order to determine whether the necessary threshold is met one should use the following test: one ought to look at these atrocities or acts in their context and verify whether they may be regarded as part of an overall policy or a consistent pattern of a inhumanity, or whether they instead constitute isolated or sporadic acts of cruelty and wickedness.

[edit] UN Security Council responsibility

UN Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted by the United Nations Security Council on 28 April 2006, "reaffirms the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity".<ref>Resolution 1674 (2006)</ref> The resolution commits the Council to action to protect civilians in armed conflict.

[edit] Council of Europe

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 30 April 2002 issued a recommendation to the member states, on the protection of women against violence. In the section "Additional measures concerning violence in conflict and post-conflict situations", states in paragraph 69 that member states should: "penalise rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as an intolerable violation of human rights, as crimes against humanity and, when committed in the context of an armed conflict, as war crimes;"<ref>Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: Recommendation (2002) 5 Paragraph 69</ref>

In the Explanatory Memorandum on this recommendation when considering paragraph 69:

Reference should be made to the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal adopted in Rome in July 1998. Article 7 of the Statute defines rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, as crimes against humanity. Furthermore, Article 8 of the Statute defines rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation or any other form of sexual violence as a serious breach of the Geneva Conventions and as war crimes.<ref>Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: Recommendation (2002) 5 Paragraph 100</ref>

To fall under the Rome Statute, a crime against humanity which is defined in Article 7.1 must be "part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population". Article 7.2.a states "For the purpose of paragraph 1: "Attack directed against any civilian population means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack." This means that an individual crime on its own, or even a number of such crimes, would not fall under the Rome Statute unless they were the result of a State policy or an organizational policy. This was confirmed by Luis Moreno-Ocampo in an open letter publishing his conclusions about allegations of crimes committed during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 which might fall under the ICC. In a section entitled "Allegations concerning Genocide and Crimes against Humanity" he states that "the available information provided no reasonable indicia of the required elements for a crime against humanity, i.e. 'a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population'".<ref> Luis Moreno-Ocampo OTP letter to senders re Iraq 9 February 2006. Page 4</ref>

[edit] Influence on the arts

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • William A. Schabas, Genocide in International Law: The Crimes of Crimes, Cambridge University Press, 2000,

[edit] Footnotes

<references />

[edit] External links

International criminal law
Sources of law:
Charter of the IMT - Crime against international law - Crime against humanity - Crime against peace
Crime of apartheid - Crime of genocide - Customary law - Laws of war - Nuremberg Principles
Peremptory norm - Rome Statute - Universal jurisdiction - War crime - War of aggression
Courts:
War responsibility trials in Finland - International Military Tribunal for Europe
International Military Tribunal for the Far East - Khabarovsk War Crime Trials
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia - Tribunal for Rwanda - Court for Sierra Leone
International Criminal Court
History:
List of war crimes
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de:Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit et:Inimsusevastane kuritegu es:Crimen contra la humanidad fr:Crime contre l'humanité id:Kejahatan terhadap umat manusia it:Crimine contro l'umanità he:פשע נגד האנושות nl:Misdaden tegen de menselijkheid ja:人道に対する罪 no:Forbrytelse mot menneskeheten pl:Zbrodnia przeciwko ludzkości pt:Crime contra a humanidade sl:Zločin proti človeštvu fi:Rikos ihmisyyttä vastaan sv:Brott mot mänskligheten zh:危害人类罪

Crime against humanity

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