crime against humanity

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Crimes against humanity are specific crimes committed in the context of a large-scale attack targeting civilians, regardless of their nationality. These crimes include the most egregious violations of human dignity, especially those directed towards civilian populations. Crimes against humanity have often been committed as part of State policies, but they can also be perpetrated by non-State armed groups or paramilitary forces.

As codified in Article 7 of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute, the following acts are punishable as crimes against humanity when perpetrated by a state actor as part of a systematic or widespread attack against a civilian population:

  • murder;
  • extermination;
  • deportation or forcible transfer;
  • false imprisonment;
  • torture;
  • rapesexual slavery, or enforced sterilization;
  • ethnic persecution;
  • disappearance;
  • apartheid;
  • "Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health."

The intent requirement for liability is "knowledge of the attack."

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]