Fifth EU Day Against Impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: An opportunity to boost states’ commitment to fighting impunity and justice for victims

On 23 May 2020, the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), the European Commission, Eurojust and the EU Network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (the ‘Genocide Network’) marked the Fifth EU Day Against Impunity.

Since 2016, May 23rd has marked the annual EU Day against Impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  The event is aimed at raising awareness of these crimes. The day is also intended to promote national investigations and prosecutions,  to address the position and participation of victims in criminal proceedings for these crimes, and to encourage commitment to the fight against impunity for these crimes.


#EUDayAgainstImpunity 2020

This year’s virtual event focused on the topic of the "Cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters for core international crimes and terrorism-related offences."

Watch the videos prepared by Eurojust with keynote statements from Mr Ladislav Hamran- President of Eurojust, Mr Dražen Bošnjaković- Croatian Minister for Justice, Mr Didier Reynders- European Commissioner for Justice, Ms Nadia Murad- Nobel Peace Prize winner 2018.

Watch also what practitioners have to say about their work and their roles in prosecuting those crimes: Ms Aurelia Devos- French prosecutor, Ms Nicole Vogelenzang- Dutch Prosecutor and  Ms Anna Zabeck and Mr Christian Ritscher- German Prosecutors.

On this occasion, the ‘Genocide Network’ also presented a Report on “Cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters for core international crimes and terrorism-related offences”.

The Network also published a Factsheet with information on cases and the role of the ‘Genocide Network’  on “Supporting national authorities in the fight against core international crime”.


Civil society keeping up the fight against impunity every day

On the 5th EU Day against Impunity, FIDH, REDRESS and ECCHR call on the EU and its member states to prioritize victims’ rights in their efforts to combat impunity and to maximize the impact of prosecutions beyond EU member states.


Further Reading #UniversalJurisdiction:

In March 2020, TRIAL International published its “Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review (UJAR) 2020 : Terrorism and international crimes: prosecuting atrocities for what they are”


Open Society Justice Initiative and TRIAL International published a series of reports comparing the legal systems of eight countries (CanadaFinlandFranceGermanyThe NetherlandsNorwaySweden, and Switzerland), which provide an analysis of the laws and practices of eight countries relating to their investigation and prosecution of those crimes under universal jurisdiction.

ECCHR monitors the first trial worldwide on torture in Syria : On 23 April 2020, the first criminal trial worldwide on state torture in Syria started in Germany. The main defendant in front of the higher regional court in Koblenz is Anwar R, a former general intelligence directorate official in Bashar al-Assad’s government.


Recalling the Fourth EU Day Against Impunity:

Read here the report from the Fourth EU Day against Impunity, on 23 May 2019 organized by the Romanian Presidency, the European Commission, the Genocide Network, and Eurojust. The Coalition for the ICC Regional Coordinator for Europe, Virginie Amato, was among the panelists on the topic of ‘Joining forces in the fight against impunity – providing synergies between external and internal European dimensions’.


What is the EU Genocide Network?

The EU network of contact points for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (“EU Genocide Network”) was established in 2002, bringing together prosecutors, police investigators and other experts from EU member states who are responsible for dealing with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide, in order to exchange information, best practices, and specific experiences in investigating and prosecuting Rome Statute crimes at the national level.

In 2014, the EU Genocide Network adopted the Strategy of the EU Genocide Network to combat impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within the European Union and its Member States to identify key challenges and providing recommendations for the successful national investigations and prosecutions of core international crimes. The First EU Day Against Impunity finds its origins in the Strategy, which calls for the organization of a special event at the EU level to commemorate the victims of core international crimes and to raise awareness and promote the fight against impunity.