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

Coalition for the ICC
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."

Today we celebrate the 5th #EUDayAgainstImpunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity & genocide, bringing together – in a series of videos – decision-makers, prosecutors & other parties fighting such crimes.

More: https://t.co/jVALcLNP5F#CroatianPresidency #GenocideNetwork pic.twitter.com/q82hU2ANQJ

— Eurojust (@Eurojust) May 23, 2020

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 ‘Cumulative Prosecution of #ForeignTerroristFighters for Core International Crimes & Terrorism-Related Offences’ report launched today highlights the increase in cumulative charges for such crimes reported by EU Prosecutors. https://t.co/ksQjvREa9m #EUDayAgainstImpunity pic.twitter.com/IFJBDFAvqs

— Eurojust (@Eurojust) May 23, 2020

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.

@fidh_en @REDRESSTrust @ECCHRBerlin call on the EU & member states to prioritise #victimsrights in the fight vs impunity.
Only by trying atrocity crimes for what they are can we bring justice to victims.
Read our statement for #EUDayAgainstImpunityhttps://t.co/hHa9TPA3yO pic.twitter.com/qqVkE728gA

— FIDH (@fidh_en) May 22, 2020

Last year alone saw extra-territorial investigations and prosecutions for Int. crimes in 22 countries. The trend is rising and victims’ rights need to be ensured in proceedings! #EUDayAgainstImpunity https://t.co/4njtn2FX2y

— Alejandra Vicente (@AVicente_Carr) May 22, 2020


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”

The use of #UniversalJurisdiction has increased exponentially. This principle makes it possible to prosecute perpetrators of atrocities regardless of the crime location or the nationality of the criminal.
Read and share our #UJAR: https://t.co/8b5XCWxlHg pic.twitter.com/jjFj4AeY3E

— TRIAL International (@Trial) April 3, 2020

#UniversalJurisdiction is now a well-established legal practice. In 2019 alone, 37 charges of #terrorism, 141 charges of #WarCrimes and 146 of crimes against humanity. Over 50 cases under scrutiny in our #UJAR 2020 : https://t.co/iQJiUqtYhx pic.twitter.com/fVdD9XjQgc

— TRIAL International (@Trial) April 10, 2020


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’.

#EUDayAgainstImpunity 23 May=opp to reinvigorate #EU commitment to fight impunity for intl crimes at domestic & intl level #ICC #UJ@Eurojust @ROinNL @ro2019eu @EU_Commission @WarCrimes_NL @eu_eeas @ngos4justice

Check out moment from 23 May event!https://t.co/eC1F6okCdD

— Virginie Amato (@VirginieAmato) May 28, 2019

Dutch Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus today during #EUDayAgainstImpunity @Eurojust: “Genocide and war crimes are most unspeakable crimes known to mankind. We have to make sure their perpetrators cannot find safe haven in EU.” @ferdgrapperhaus pic.twitter.com/rPWEQrCYMz

— Eurojust (@Eurojust) May 23, 2019

The #EUDayAgainstImpunity should also serve as an occasion to underline the rights of victims of international crimes which are often forgotten #EU States should ensure rights are implemented & respected including via EU Victims Rights Directive https://t.co/rq0gzq36Cz

— Virginie Amato (@VirginieAmato) May 27, 2019


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.