Crimes against humanity have a long history. In what is often cited as the first prosecution by an international tribunal, Peter von Hagenbach was prosecuted in the 15th century by the Holy Roman Empire for violating “the laws of God and man.” This is evidence that there were offenses that were considered violations of the laws of man that could be prosecuted as crimes. In May 1915, the phrase crimes against humanity was officially used for the first time in a warning issued by the British Empire, France, and Russia to the Young Turks governing the Ottoman Empire. During World War I, the Young Turks implemented deportation laws to rid the Ottoman Empire of certain religious and ethnic minority groups, including Armenian Christians. The multinational ...

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