crimes against humanity

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Scholars and practitioners gathered at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, for the 2009 Experts’ Meeting of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative (Photo: Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photo Services)
16 June 2015 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

While war crimes have the Geneva Conventions and international treaties criminalize genocide, torture and slavery, crimes against humanity have no dedicated treaty that prohibits states from committing them. Legal scholars are working to change this, and are in the final drafting stages of an International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity.

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Victims' widows and survivors thank lawyers after a court's March 2015 sentence against Habré's agents (Photo: Twitter/@HenriThulliez)
17 June 2015

In IJT 184, veteran war crimes tribunal journalist and former IJT editor Thierry Cruvellier analyzes the significance of Chadian ex-dictator Hissène Habré's upcoming trial at the Extraordinary African Chambers.

Other features:

  • There's a new start date for the retrial of former Guatemalan dictator Ríos Montt
  • Scholars say it's time for a crimes against humanity convention
  • Complementarity remains a guessing game at the International Criminal Court

News brief:

Sudan's President Bashir gets away again but who looks worse: the ICC or South Africa?

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At a shelter for Yazidis refugees who fled IS attacks in Iraq, Mahoubet says the jihadist movement killed her husband and kidnapped her sister and daughter (Photo: Flickr/Caroline Gluck/EU/ECHO)
23 March 2015 by Karina Hof

The Islamic State (IS) is perpetuating heinous human rights violations in Iraq and members of the jihadist movement may be guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, says a UN report released last week. Its author, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, recommends Iraq join the International Criminal Court and accept its jurisdiction “over the current situation”.

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Interior of Ramincu Sarat prison in Romania (Photo: IICCMER)
09 February 2015 by Isabelle Wesselingh, Bucharest (Romania)

The first trial of a Communist-era prison commander charged with crimes against humanity [IJT-168], in a case the media have dubbed “Romania's Nuremberg”, raised great expectations. But after a few months, many people in the country still struggling to reconcile with its past have voiced disappointment.

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08 October 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

Lawyers for former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea last week filed appeals against the life sentences that judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) issued in August for crimes against humanity.

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ICTY 'Wanted' posters from 2000 and 2011 after Hadzic's arrest
24 September 2014 by Sandra Milic, The Hague (The Netherlands)

For more than a month, former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic has tried to convince judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that he had no actual clout during the war in Croatia and his fiery media appearances during the 1991-1995 conflict were just for show. The last ICTY fugitive to be caught in 2011, Hadzic was prime minister of the Serbian Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia and later president of the Republic of the Serbian Krajina.

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24 September 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

Last week, Belgium arrested and indicted Liberian Martina Johnson on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged participation in Operation Octopus, a brutal battle for capital city Monrovia in 1992. This is the first-ever indictment for international crimes during the country’s first civil war, lasting from 1989 to 1996. Human rights organizations say Johnson was a close confidante of former Liberian president Charles Taylor and served as a general in his National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL). 

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08 October 2014 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are struggling to maintain their case against Kenyan vice president William Ruto and his co-accused, radio broadcaster Joshua Sang. As the evidence continues to dribble away, the defence plans to ask for an acquittal halfway through the trial. Both Ruto and Sang are accused of crimes against humanity committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.

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22 October 2014 by Isabelle Wesselingh, Bucharest (Romania)

For the first time since the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu a quarter-century ago, a Communist-era prison commander faces charges of crimes against humanity. The landmark trial of Alexandru Visinescu could help Romanians come to terms with their country’s totalitarian legacy. Survivors of the grisly Ramnicu Sarat prison in eastern Romania waited for decades to see the former chief appear before judges.

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22 October 2014 by Julia Wallace

After an initial guilty verdict in August for two former Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of crimes against humanity – and strong admonitions from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)’s appellate judges for its trial chamber to hurry up – substantive hearings are underway in what is known as Case 002/02. 

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