Dictionary of Gross Human Rights Violations
Persecution, the Crime against Humanity of
Persecution is a unique crime against humanity because it encompasses the criminal acts of all of the other crimes against humanity (such as enslavement, torture, killing) when they are committed with the intent of persecuting a particular group (including racial, ethnic, national, religious, political and other groups). Moreover, persecution is similar to genocide in that the perpetrator must be committing a crime against a person or persons because of their membership in a group. This "discriminatory intent" is similar to the intent required for hate crimes in some domestic jurisdictions. Persecution may also include other acts not included under the listed crimes against humanity if these acts are an “intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity” (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court). As a crime against humanity this persecution must also occur as a part of a “widespread or systematic attack” either in war or in peace.
The crime against humanity of persecution first appeared in the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg) Charter as “persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.” The crime against humanity of persecution has since been included in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC, Article 7 (h)), the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY, Article 5 (h)), the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR, Article 3 (h)), and the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL, Article 2 (h)).Back