Conference “Strengthening National Justice for Core International Crimes”

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More than 240 people participate from over 25 countries both in situ and online

On 28 June, CMN hosted an international conference entitled: “Strengthening National Justice for Core International Crimes: Laws, Procedures and Practices in an Age of Legal Pluralism”. Speakers from national and international prosecution offices, the UN, NGOs and academia joined more than 75 people in The Hague and 170 people online. Together, they engaged in issues of ratification, implementation and co-operation with the ICC; case mapping, selection and prioritisation; and investigation, fact-finding and documentation. The conference exposed concerns faced by justice actors in Colombia, the DRC, El Salvador, Georgia, Indonesia, Mexico and Sierra Leone, as well as before the ICC.

National experiences of accountability processes

National practitioners addressed specific challenges and efforts taken to strengthen national justice for core international crimes, at different stages of criminal justice efforts:

  • In session 1 (Ratification, Implementation and Co-operation of the ICC Statute), Sulaiman Bah (Ministry of Justice, Sierra Leone) emphasised the importance of legal reform in Sierra Leone, to ensure adequate coverage of core international crimes, liabilities and cooperation in national laws, and to consolidate the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • Romina Morello (Parliamentarians for Global Action) reviewed the particularities of the draft co-operation bill in El Salvador, the latest State to have joined the Rome Statute: the non-retroactivity clause, the prohibition of life imprisonment and the restriction of nationality for the enforcement of sentences.
  • In discussing the Georgian laws on cooperation with the ICC, Givi Bagdavadze (Attorney General’s Office, Georgia) emphasised the strengths of the co-operation law along with potential co-operation challenges in the context of the newest ICC investigation.
  • In session 2 (Case Mapping, Selection and Prioritisation), Papy Ndondoboni (UNDP, DRC) discussed the need for selection and prioritisation criteria for mapping sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases, in the context of the expansion of Congolese national laws to include core international crimes and modes of liability and an increasingly high number of reported SGBV incidents.
  • In session 3 (Investigation, Fact-Finding and Documentation), José Guevara (CMDPDH, Mexico) presented the facts and challenges faced by the NGOs documenting possible crimes against humanity in Mexico: low number of reported crimes, unreliable national registers for crimes as well as crime statistics, restricted access to national security information and a significant imbalance between the number of reported crimes and judicial proceedings.


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International justice for core international crimes

Several international practitioners and experts addressed overlapping challenges facing international institutions and actors in their efforts to ensure accountability for core international crimes:

  • Rod Rastan (ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) discussed the legal criteria and prosecutorial discretion in selection and prioritisation of cases for investigation and prosecution, based on the OTP’s Draft Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation.
  • Carsten Stahn (Leiden University) expounded upon these criteria in the context of preliminary examinations, while outlining different models that have been adopted by the ICC.
  • In addressing investigation, fact-finding and documentation challenges, Emeric Rogier (OTP) provided observations on the various phases of preliminary examination analysis conducted by the OTP, emphasising the importance that information submitted to the OTP be structured in accordance to the mandate of the ICC.
  • The final speaker of the conference, Bill Wiley (CIJA), focused on the transition from internationally-dominated prosecutions to nationally-led criminal justice for core international crimes, commenting on techniques to ensure robust investigative practices within national institutions and organisations.

The CMN ICJ Toolkits

The conference sessions followed the subject matter of three of the ICJ Toolkits, providing a forum to introduce the methodology, purpose and application of the toolkits in different national contexts:

  • Olympia Bekou (CMN Deputy Director) introduced the Ratification, Implementation and Co-operation Toolkit and the Co-operation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD), as well its application in Indonesia.
  • Ilia Utmelidze (CMN Director) introduced the rationale and purpose of case mapping, selection and prioritisation, and how this underpinned the Case Mapping Selection and Prioritisation Toolkit and its use in the DRC and Colombia.
  • Finally, Emilie Hunter (CMN Deputy Director) summarised the Investigation, Fact-Finding and Documentation Toolkit, focusing on the relevance of its Information Documentation System (I-DOC) in structuring large scale documentation activities, enabling analysis of patterns and linkages amongst essential information categories, and its planned deployment amongst Mexican NGOs.

Making justice accessible: live-streaming, simultaneous interpretation and presentation clips

The conference was live streamed, with more than 170 people joining throughout the day. To ensure that viewers from lower-bandwidth regions can benefit from the presentations, audio-video clips of individual presentations are available to view or download, in English and French on the CMN Youtube channel.

Furthermore, simultaneous interpretation between English and French was provided, enabling Congolese and Francophone participants to engage in the conference.

Twitter: #CMNICJToolkits

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