The Applicability of “Grievous Religious Persecution” in International Criminal Law: Response to Werner Nicolaas Nel

 

Michelle Coleman is a Lecturer in Law at Middlesex University London

In the 10 March 2021 post “In Pursuit of Criminal Accountability for ‘Grievous Religious Persecution’” Werner Nicolaas Nel argues for a new international crime to provide greater accountability for religious persecution. This new crime builds on the definition of the crime of religious persecution as a crime against humanity under Article 7(1)(h) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In Nel’s formulation, the crime becomes grievous through the addition of a requirement that the persecutory conduct is “based on an explicit or implied policy of conscious and intentional discrimination against a particular civilian group, primarily targeted because of their religious identity.” The post argues that this more specific definition of the crime is necessary in order to provide for prosecution on an international level and to close the impunity gap for those crimes which fall within the definition of grievous religious persecution. This more specific definition may help aid the domestic prosecution of international crimes, particularly when universal jurisdiction is being exercised, or following the creation of any future specialized international courts and tribunals, but is unhelpful at the ICC. The existing formulation of religious persecution found in the Rome Statute is adequate and the perceived lack of prosecution of cases involving religious persecution is more easily attributable to the jurisdictional issues, policy, and resources of the International Criminal Court.

(more…)

Continue Reading The Applicability of “Grievous Religious Persecution” in International Criminal Law: Response to Werner Nicolaas Nel

In Pursuit of Criminal Accountability for “Grievous Religious Persecution”

Werner Nicolaas Nel is a senior lecturer in law at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and author of the book Grievous religious persecution: A conceptualisation of crimes against humanity of religious persecution

Introduction

Particular incidences of religious persecution are, because of their scale, severity, and discriminatory motivation, so heinous that they result in severe deprivations of fundamental human rights and are justifiably categorized as crimes against humanity of religious persecution, coined “grievous religious persecution”. In recent years several situations emerged of mass-discriminatory atrocities committed against communities based on their religious beliefs, such as the Yazidis in Iraq, Christian minorities in the Middle East and Nigeria, and Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Given the inviolability of human dignity, such occurrences have justifiably generated a global moral outcry, demanding that the international community properly address such grave injustices and end impunity. Contrary to the current political climate of resignation and collective cynicism regarding the aspirations of the International Criminal Court (ICC), I argue that international criminal law may proceed in representation of the conscience of humankind by holding criminally accountable, those responsible for religious persecution, and help prevent future occurrences of these crimes.

(more…)

Continue Reading In Pursuit of Criminal Accountability for “Grievous Religious Persecution”