On 24 and 25 April 2012, Eurojust hosted the 12th meeting of the European Network of Contact Points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (the Genocide Network).
The meeting, convened by the Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU and supported by the Network’s Secretariat and Eurojust, was attended by delegations from 19 Member States, and representatives from Canada, Colombia, Norway, the USA and Switzerland, as well as representatives from the International Criminal Court, Eurojust, the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council, Interpol, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Association of Prosecutors, Human Rights Watch, REDRESS, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Trial and Amnesty International.
Discussions focused on the identification of alleged perpetrators of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in national immigration procedures. The need for an exchange of information between immigration authorities and law enforcement/prosecution services was highlighted. Participants underlined the need for access to files of immigration authorities, where Article 1F of the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees has been applied, to increase efficiency of investigations and prosecutions of alleged perpetrators.
During the meeting various best practices in immigration procedures were discussed, such as the use of tailored questionnaires related to the specific country of origin; leaflets to increase awareness and encourage crime reporting to law enforcement authorities by immigrants and diasporas; obligatory notifications to law enforcement authorities on cases in which Article 1F of the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees has been applied; and specialised training for immigration officers. Attention was further drawn to the pending ICJ case on the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), which illustrates the impact that the Court’s decision can have on matters dealt with in the Network; and to the initiative by the Netherlands, cosponsored by Belgium and Slovenia, for a new instrument for international legal cooperation regarding the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The meeting enabled national authorities to exchange information on practical issues and on-going cases. It is important to stress that close cooperation between authorities at national level and internationally is crucial to fight impunity.
In closing the meeting, the Genocide Network Secretariat expressed satisfaction with the high number of participants, the great interest in the meeting from Member States, Observer States and civil society, the impressive commitment of participants and the level of cooperation, good information sharing and exchange of best practices between the national authorities.
A report on the conclusions of the two-day meeting will be published on the internet in due course.