Crimes against humanity

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War crimes, murder, massacres, dehumanization, genocide, ethnic cleansing, deportations, unethical human experimentation, extrajudicial punishments including summary executions, use of WMDs, state terrorism or state sponsoring of terrorism, death squads, kidnappings and forced disappearances, military use of children, unjust imprisonment, enslavement, cannibalism, torture, rape, political repression, racial discrimination, religious persecution, and other human rights abuses may reach the threshold... ~Crimes against humanity
The prohibition of crimes against humanity, similar to the prohibition of genocide, has been considered a peremptory norm of international law, from which no derogation is permitted and which is applicable to all States.
US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff released 5th April 2010 by WikiLeaks

Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. The law of crimes against humanity has primarily developed through the evolution of customary international law. Crimes against humanity are not codified in an international convention, although there is currently an international effort to establish such a treaty, led by the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative. Unlike war crimes, crimes against humanity can be committed during peace or war. 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.

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  • Denying medicines to Iran and Venezuela is a crime against humanity... One of the most truly despicable aspects of the coronavirus is how it is being exploited by Washington to punish countries like Iran and Venezuela, currently the enemy-designates of the inside the Beltway crowd... If the United States were to make a serious effort to actually help the Iranian people by suspending sanctions and helping to expedite medical assistance it might actually produce a genuine thaw in a relationship that has been unnecessarily locked... Waging war on innocent people should not in any event be what the United States of America is all about. A shift in policies that actually demonstrates that Washington might be interested in saving lives rather than destroying them would be welcomed by most of the world and also by many Americans.
  • Bensouda (the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor since June 2012) found the alleged crimes by the CIA and U.S. military “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” but were “part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees.” ... The Pretrial Chamber agreed with Bensouda that there were reasonable grounds to believe that, pursuant to a U.S. policy, members of the CIA had committed war crimes. They included torture and cruel treatment, and outrages upon personal dignity, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence against those held in detention facilities in the territory of States Parties to the Rome Statute, including Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania.
  • Romanian prosecutors have indicted former President Ion Iliescu for crimes against humanity for his role in the bloody aftermath of the December 1989 revolt that toppled dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's regime. Iliescu's indictment, the latest step in a long-running investigation, was revealed 29 years to the day since the uprising, which had begun in the western city of Timisoara, reached Bucharest.
  • What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that under international law, no country can ever pass a law that allows torture. There can be no immunity from criminal liability for violation of a “jus cogens” prohibition. The United States has always prohibited torture — in our Constitution, laws, executive orders, judicial decisions and treaties. When we ratify a treaty, it becomes part of US law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture,” the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the US ratified, states unequivocally. Torture is considered a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, also ratified by the United States. Geneva classifies grave breaches as war crimes. The US War Crimes Act and 18 USC, sections 818 and 3231, punish torture, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and inhuman, humiliating or degrading treatment. And the Torture Statute criminalizes the commission, attempt, or conspiracy to commit torture outside the United States.
  • UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect works to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity....Crimes against humanity have not yet been codified in a dedicated treaty of international law, unlike genocide and war crimes, although there are efforts to do so. Despite this, the prohibition of crimes against humanity, similar to the prohibition of genocide, has been considered a peremptory norm of international law, from which no derogation is permitted and which is applicable to all States.
  • Despite the promises made after World War II to eliminate the commission of atrocities, crimes against humanity persist with horrifying ubiquity. Yet the absence of a consistent definition and uniform interpretation of crimes against humanity has made it difficult to establish the theory underlying such crimes and to prosecute them in particular cases. In the 1990s, several ad hoc international criminal tribunals were established to respond to the commission of atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity, in specific regions of the world in conflict. Building on this legacy, in 1998 a new institution—the International Criminal Court (ICC) — was established to take up the task...
  • The truly distinguishing element of crimes against humanity is the fact that they are part of a State plan or policy rather than that they are widespread or systematic... crimes against humanity were originally designed to capture crimes of State that went unpunished precisely because the State was complicit in them. It was a way of addressing State crimes, and not perverse individuals.
    • William A. Schabas, ‘Whither genocide? The International Court of Justice finally pronounces’ (2007) 9 Journal of Genocide Research 183, 189 (‘Schabas, “Whither genocide?”’).

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