Crimes against humanity – defined as a systematic attack on a civilian population – tend to be planned or at least condoned by state authorities: heads of government, senior officials or military leaders. In some cases, companies also play a direct or indirect role in their perpetration.
The term “crimes against humanity” was first defined during the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. Under this definition the Nazis' mass extermination of the Jewish population in Europe and other groups was a genocide but it also constituted a crime against humanity as a whole.
When crimes against humanity – which can include ethnic cleansing, enslavement or deportation of a population – are perpetrated today, those responsible for them can be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court or in certain national jurisdictions under the principle of universal jurisdiction. All too often, however, those responsible enjoy absolute impunity.
ECCHR works to end impunity for crimes against humanity. Together with affected persons, civil society organizations and an international network of partner organizations and lawyers, ECCHR undertakes legal interventions to bring those responsible to justice.