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War Crimes

A war crime is a punishable offense, under international law, for violations of the law of war by any person, military or civilian. Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as: "Willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including... willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, ...taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."

The goals of PHR's investigations include revealing the truth, establishing accountability and grounds for prosecuting perpetrators, giving voice to victims, demonstrating the vast scope and trauma of rights violations, and creating an effective platform for advocating an end to the abuses.

In 1993, PHR exhumed mass graves and assessed refugee camps for the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In 1994, PHR advocated for the establishment of an International War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda and again provided forensic evidence of genocide. Our 2005 report documenting and analyzing genocide in Darfur was cited repeatedly in the ICC Prosecutor's charges against President Bashir of Sudan. And our report on rape in Sierra Leone is now being used in the prosecution of the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor.

PHR reports on war crimes also include:

Darfur: Assault on Survival, A Call for Security,Justice, and Restitution - PHR's evidence of the systematic denial of livelihoods for Darfurians, along with other indicators, classified the crimes committed by the Government of Sudan and its proxy militia, the Janjaweed, as genocide under international law. 

War Crimes in Kosovo - The Kosovo crisis resulted in the largest population displacement in Europe since the Second World War. By using a population-based approach in Albania and Macedonia, PHR established patterns of human rights violations and the pervasiveness of violence and abuses by Serb forces committed among the refugees when they were in Kosovo.