THE PROSECUTION AND PUNISHMENT OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY; SOME RECENT THEORETICAL AND JURIDICAL DEVELOPMENTS
Sotirios E. Kyrkos
Vice-Prosecutor, Athens Air Force Court
As it is widely known, the first instance of written definition in a legal instrument of the term “crimes against humanity” dates back in 8-8-1945, with the conclusion of art. 6 of the London Charter, which formed the legal basis for the indictment of the major World War II German criminals in Nuremberg. However, setting aside the need to stipulate a clear legal definition of crimes against humanity, as a distinct category of crimes both in national and international level, in order to facilitate their judicial prosecution and punishment, a number of vexed questions arises which have to be answered. First of all, what exactly constitutes the moral and normative basis for the formulation of this particular category of crimes? Why the existing penal provisions and juridical mechanisms in the national level are deemed insufficient for the effective suppression of crimes against humanity, thus leading the international community to the conclusion of special treaties and the creation of international enforcement mechanisms for the apprehension, prosecution and sentencing of the perpetrators? To what extent could be deemed permissible to overcome the obstacles set by the once considered as sacred and inviolable principle of national sovereignty?