ITJP

Genocide

The term genocide came into use after 1944 to designate crimes aimed at eliminating national, ethnic, racial, or religious groups. The person responsible for creating the term was Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish lawyer who could not find an appropriate word to describe the systematic murders the Nazis committed when they tried to exterminate the Jews. In this regard, Raphael Lemkin has defined genocide as "a coordinated plan, with actions of various kinds, which has as its main objective the destruction of the fundamental foundations of the life of national groups to annihilate them.”

The following year, in 1945, the International Military Tribunal founded in Nuremberg, Germany, was responsible for accusing the Nazi leaders of having committed crimes against humanity, where the word genocide was included, but until then, without a legal basis. It was then in 1948 that the UN General Assembly passed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide. What this convention did was to establish that genocide is a crime of international character and that the signatory nations of the United Nations must commit themselves to take action to prevent this crime and to punish it.

The acts that can be considered genocide are: killing members of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group; causing harm to the physical or mental integrity of members of the group; deliberately imposing on the group living conditions that may cause its physical destruction in whole or in part; setting measures that prevent the physical reproduction of members of the group; forcibly transferring children from one group to another.

The motivations for committing genocide are as diverse and absurd as xenophobia, hatred, fear, or deep loathing of people of different nationalities or ethnic or religious disputes. The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide has established the principle of individual responsibility for all acts relating to genocide and has determined that there will be punishment for those who commit them.

The most prominent example today happened in World War II, with the death of more than six million Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, blacks, communists, and Slavs. But it was not the first. There was an Armenian genocide that historians consider to be the first act of systematic extermination of an ethnic group. It happened in World War I when the Ottoman Empire committed numerous mass murders against the population of Armenia, which resulted in the death of 1.8 million people.

Another case that is also known and can bring us back to the present day is the so-called Holodomor or Ukrainian genocide, which occurred between 1932 and 1933. This genocide led from 3 to 3.5 million people to die from starvation, acts that were attributed to the Soviet government of Josef Stalin.

Genocide then falls under the heading of a crime against humanity, and today there is the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Crimes of genocide are currently tried by the International Criminal Court, provided a government has no interest or feasible conditions to hold such a trial on its territory.

Genocide, unlike war crimes, can be committed at any time, that is, in times of peace or war. The punishments accepted by the International Criminal Court are imprisonment for a fixed term, exceptionally life imprisonment, fines, and confiscation of property. Unfortunately, there have been other crimes of genocide beyond World War II, such as in Cambodia, Kosovo, Rwanda, and Bosnia.

Additionally, we must mention more than a million demands for #StopHazaraGenocide globally. The Hazaras have a long history of discrimination, especially by the ISIS, so they have every right to worry about genocide. The Hazara ethnic and religious minority of Afghanistan is particularly at risk since the ISIS and the Taliban target and violate their human rights against them.

The international community must protect the Hazara people by following legal, moral, and political obligations. It must uphold the promise made in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to "never again."

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