Definitions based on generalcriteriaIn the absence of an agreed understanding of what‘grave’, ‘gross’, or ‘serious’ violations are, scholarshave analysed the notion of ‘gross and systematicviolations’ of human rights.Tardu, for example, has interpreted the term‘consistent pattern of gross violations’ basedon debates concerning Resolutions 1235 and1503. These highlighted several quantitative andqualitative characteristics of a ‘consistent patternof gross violations’:ƒ Violations ‘cannot easily involve a singlevictim’.ƒ A number of breaches occur, spread over aperiod.ƒ ‘An element of planning or of sustainedwill on the part of the perpetrator’ must bepresent.ƒ According to a qualitative test, the violationmust inherently have an ‘inhuman anddegrading character’.63In addition, the qualitative test ‘needs to be appliedcumulatively or as an alternative to some of thepreceding quantitative tests, in order to ascertainthe “gross” character of violations’.Professor Cecilia Medina has also defined ‘gross andsystematic’ human rights violations. She suggestedthey are violations which are ‘instrumental in theachievement of governmental policies perpetratedin such a quantity and in such a manner as to createa situation in which the rights to life, to personalintegrity or to personal liberty of the population asa whole or of one or more sectors of the populationof a country are continuously infringed’.64 On thisbasis, she concluded that four elements mustbe present for a violation to qualify as ‘gross andsystematic’: (a) quantity; (b) time; (c) quality; and(d) planning. Quality (expressed by the adjective‘gross’) may be a combination of three factors: (1)the type of right(s) violated; (2) the character of theviolation; and (3) the characteristics of the victims.


Conceptions of ‘a serious violation’: parallels
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