Crimes against humanity
Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are purposefully committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of war or peace. They differ from war crimes because they are not acts committed by individual soldiers but are acts committed in furtherance of a state or organizational policy.
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- The story starts March 18, 2019, in a big Air Force combat operations center in Al Udeid in Qatar. And there we have, it almost looks like mission command for NASA. You have banks of computers, big screens, all of them watching the air war against the Islamic State... on this day, a lot of people in the command center are watching a drone that was flying up overhead. Now, what they saw was a field that was just littered with a tangle of cars and makeshift tents of debris of the leftovers from weeks of combat. But also within there was a lot of people. And the drone hovered over and focused in on a group of women and children who had found refuge down by the river against a steep sand bank. The drone, it lingered for several minutes, slowly circling with its cameras focused on these folks, either sleeping or just laying down low to take cover from whatever combat might be coming. And the people in the operation center were calmly watching this when, suddenly... an American F-15 attack jet came right through and dropped a large bomb dead center into this group of women and children... killing nearly all of them.
- In the last days of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria, when members of the once-fierce caliphate were cornered in a dirt field next to a town called Baghuz, a U.S. military drone circled high overhead, hunting for military targets. But it saw only a large crowd of women and children huddled against a river bank. Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover.
Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors....
a legal officer flagged the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation.
But at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike. The death toll was downplayed... Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. The Defense Department’s independent inspector general began an inquiry, but the report containing its findings was stalled and stripped of any mention of the strike.
United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site... Civilian observers who came to the area of the strike the next day described finding piles of dead women and children.
- WikiLeaks and Julian, as we know, have been persecuted for revealing to the world, especially to liberals, Democrats, Tories, social democrats — revealing to them the crimes against humanity perpetrated by our own elected leaders, in our name, behind our backs...
- A war crimes complaint has been filed against President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser Jared Kushner in the International Criminal Court (ICC).... The complaint, filed by Middlesex University law professor William Schabas on June 30 on behalf of four Palestinians who live in the West Bank, states “there is credible evidence” that Trump, Netanyahu and Kushner “are complicit in acts that may amount to war crimes relating to the transfer of populations into occupied territory and the annexation of the sovereign territory of the State of Palestine.” Under article 15 of the ICC’s Rome Statute, any individual, group or organization can bring a complaint to the Office of the Prosecutor. ...
Schabas’ complaint comes on the heels of unusual moves last month from the Trump administration, which declared a “national emergency” in June in an effort to shield U.S. and Israeli officials from ICC accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- At their debate, Biden confronted Sanders about his praise for Fidel Castro’s literacy campaign after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Sanders replied that he opposed authoritarian governments but “it is incorrect to say they never do anything positive.” He cited China’s reduction in poverty... Biden said it’s one thing to occasionally mention something positive a country has done, but, he added, “the idea of praising a country that is violating human rights…” It is unlikely Biden was referring to the United States, whose officials are being investigated by the International Criminal Court for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the “war on terror.”
- [Fatou]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.
- After the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found a reasonable basis to believe that U.S. military and CIA leaders committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Team Trump threatened to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from the U.S. and warned it would impose economic sanctions on the Court if it launched an investigation...
- Recently, hundreds of PBS stations around the United States were scheduled to broadcast a powerful new Frontline documentary: One Day in Gaza. But viewers tuning in found that it had been replaced... The documentary was to be aired on the one-year anniversary of events that took place on May 14, 2018 [in the Gaza Strip near the Gaza-Israel border] when tens of thousands of men, women, and children in Gaza gathered with the intention of deploying the tactics Gandhi had used in freeing India from British control...
Palestinians months earlier had announced their plan for a mass, peaceful demonstration in which Gazans would march for an end to Israel’s crippling 12-year blockade and, especially, for their right to return to homes stolen by Israel... Palestinians’ right to return to their homes and ancestral land is well established in international law.
Israel had responded by immediately deploying a hundred snipers. In the first seven weekly marches, Israeli forces killed about 50 of the marchers and injured over 7,000. During the 8th march on May 14, the day depicted in the film, Israeli forces killed 60 more and shot 1,000 – an average of one person every 30 seconds.
- 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 United Nations] 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.
- Marjorie Cohn in State-Sanctioned Torture in the Age of Trump, by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout (23 January 2017)
- 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...
- 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.
- 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?”’).