Using Technology to Reduce Impunity for International Crimes


CMN reflects on the positive role that technology plays in reducing impunity

The Case Matrix Network reflects on how technology has reduced impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Between 2013 and 2017, the EU funded the development of four technology-driven toolkits that have been used to reduce impunity in several countries around the world.

E-libraries: Free access to laws, jurisprudence, policies and reports

In our engagement with practitioners from over 40 countries, a recurring complaint has been the difficulty to source laws, cases, reports and general materials on core international crimes regarding national and international jurisdictions, which slows down and limits accountability responses. The ICC Legal Tools Database has sought to address these challenges by providing free and open access to what has become the largest online collection of sources and materials on international criminal law. Recently, more than 700 sources were added to the Legal Tools, after focused research led by CMN. Equally, our partner University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre recently launched the Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database, an add-on to the Legal Tools that provides comprehensive and multi-functional access to 103 national laws on co-operation and judicial assistance with the ICC.

Documentation and Evidence Linkage for Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes

The importance of robust documentation that can establish the facts or even historic truth of acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes is fundamental to any accountability process. Most fact-finding, documentation or investigation missions generate thousands of materials in a variety of formats of varying probative or factual value. Well-designed databases are a vital tool to support the collection, verification and corroboration of high quantities of materials, enabling practitioners to analyse criminal categories, such as victims, involved organisations and contexts. Our documentation database – the Investigation and Documentation System (I-DOC) – has been used in Mexico by the Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH) to document more than 1000 incidents that may amount to crimes against humanity.

Building Cases that Establish the Legal Requirements of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes

Reducing impunity for international crimes through criminal prosecution can be legally complex and fraught with political and social challenges. Evidence must prove the existence of three core components: the underlying act/s, the context and the individual criminal responsibility of the accused person/s. To support practitioners, we used the Case Matrix and Core International Crimes Database (CICD) to develop a series of compact guidelines that analyse the legal requirements and means of proof of crimes against humanity, command responsibility and sexual and gender-based violence crimes, reviewing more than 130 international and 20 national cases. We are also finalising means of proof charts, which catalogue the different types of evidence used to establish specific crimes and/or modes of liability. Together with jurisdiction-specific resources, these tools have been used for capacity building in Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia and Mexico.

Addressing Challenges for Case Selection and Prioritisation

The scale of international crimes in any situation invariably requires the prioritisation of cases for criminal investigation and prosecution. In principle, prioritising cases does not mean the de-selection of others, but the adoption of objective and transparent criteria that maximise the impact of criminal prosecution and justice resources. CMN has a long-standing history in the development of case mapping software and prioritisation criteria, that enable ‘the most suitable cases to go to trial first.’ Since 2011 we have supported case mapping and prioritisation criteria for sexual and gender-based violence cases in DRC, through the Database of Open Case Files (DOCF): in Province Orientale alone more than 600 cases have been registered. In 2015, we published comprehensive prioritisation criteria with a specific focus on sexual and gender-based violence cases in DRC, in support of the DRC Ministry of Justice, while in 2016 CMN participated in the review of the Draft Policy Paper on the Case Selection and Prioritisation of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor.

“Free access to technology-driven international criminal justice toolkits contributes to the fight against impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by supporting national criminal justice actors in accessing, organising and analysing factual and legal information relevant for investigation and prosecution of these large-scale and complex international crimes” said Andreja Jerončič, CMN Adviser.


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