Breaking News

Crimes against Humanity

Crimes against humanity are certain acts which are committed as part of a widespread or systematic
attack directed against any civilian population or an identifiable part of a population. It includes following acts: murder; death squads and massacres; extermination; enslavement; human experimentation; deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment; torture; military use of children; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds; enforced disappearance of persons; crime of apartheid; etc.

Origin of the term ‘Crimes against humanity’
The term originated in the Second Hague Convention of 1899 preamble and was further expanded in the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 preamble and their respective regulations, which were concerned with the codification of new rules of international humanitarian law. The preamble of the two Conventions referenced the “laws of humanity” as an expression of underlying inarticulated humanistic values. The phrase ‘crimes against humanity’ was first employed internationally in a 1915 declaration by the governments of Great Britain, France and Russia which condemned the Turkish government for the alleged massacres of Armenians as “crimes against humanity and civilization for which all the members of the Turkish Government will be held responsible together with its agents implicated in the massacres”

Nuremberg Trials
The first prosecutions for crimes against humanity took place after the Second World War in 1945 before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg. The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied forces after World War II, for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany who allegedly planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in The Holocaust and other war crimes during the World War 

The charter establishing the IMT of Nuremberg defined crimes against humanity as:    “…murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or prosecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution 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.”

International Law Commission
In 1947, the International Law Commission was charged by the United Nations General Assembly with the formulation of the principles of international law recognized and reinforced in the Nuremberg Charter and judgment, and with drafting a ‘code of offenses against the peace and security of mankind’. Completed fifty years later in 1996, the Draft Code defined crimes against humanity as various inhumane acts, i.e.,
murder, extermination, torture, enslavement, persecution on political, racial, religious or ethnic grounds, institutionalized discrimination, arbitrary deportation or forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, rape, enforced prostitution and other inhuman acts committed in a systematic manner or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organization or group.”
This definition differs from the one used in Nuremberg, where the criminal acts were to have been committed “before or during the war”, thus establishing a nexus between crimes against humanity and armed conflict.

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. According to the Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “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:

(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. 

Crimes against humanity distinguished with genocide and war crimes
To some extent, crimes against humanity overlap with genocide and war crimes. But crimes against humanity are distinguishable from genocide in that they do not require intent to “destroy in whole or in part,” as cited in the 1948 Genocide Convention, but only target a given group and carry out a policy of “widespread or systematic” violations. Crimes against humanity are also distinguishable from war crimes in that they not only apply in the context of war—they apply in times of war and peace. 

No comments