Universal Jurisdiction in Germany? The Congo War Crimes Trial: First Case under the Code of Crimes against International Law
Report by ECCHR
Thirteen years’ imprisonment for Ignace Murwanashyaka and eight years for Straton Musoni: this was the judgment handed down in September 2015 in the trial of two Rwandan leaders of the Hutu militia Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) at the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart. Their charges related to massacres committed against the civil population in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It was the first trial under the German Code of Crimes against Criminal Law which was enacted in 2002 and enables German courts to investigate international crimes.
On 8 June 2016 ECCHR published its report in on this trial. Based on trial monitoring carried out over the past four and a half years, the report examines the following questions, among others: Can this trial serve as a model for other international criminal proceedings in Germany? How can the prosecution and courts remedy shortcomings in addressing international crimes, especially concerning charges of sexualized violence? What significance does international criminal law have in the global fight against impunity?
The key elements of the report are set out in an executive summary in English.
ECCHR Report on the FDLR Trial in Germany (executive summary, English)FDLR Report Executive Summary_EN.pdf (278.4 KiB)
Compétence universelle en Allemagne? Procès des crimes de guerre en RDC (résumé en français)FDLR Report Résumé_FR.pdf (283.4 KiB)
Make Way for Justice: Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2016
Report by ECCHR, FIBGAR, FIDH und TRIAL, February 2016
2015 has seen the opening of the most anticipated trial of our time, that of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre. After 30 years of impunity, he has finally been judged for the atrocities he has inflicted on his people. This historical trial could not have taken place without a unique legal tool: Universal Jurisdiction. Thanks to this principle, States can – under certain conditions – prosecute the authors of international crimes, regardless of the place where these crimes were committed or the nationality of the victims and perpetrators.TRIAL, FIBGAR, ECCHR and FIDH make daily use of universal jurisdiction to defend victims of international crimes and fight impunity. Today, this expertise leads these NGOs to publish their second annual report of the topic: Make Way For Justice #2. In this report, 40 cases illustrate the developments of universal jurisdiction in 2015: the atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram in 2014, the crimes committed in Syria since 2011, the repression of Bahrein’s demonstrations in 2010 and many others. This study reviews 12 countries – from Sweden to Chile and from France to Senegal – who have opened inquiries, indicted or judged suspects of the most serious crimes thanks to universal jurisdiction. It also reports setbacks, such as the closing of several ongoing inquiries in Spain.
OECD procedures regarding surveillance technology against Gamma and Trovicor and regarding working conditions in Asia against KiK, C&A and Karl Rieker
ECCHR Evaluation, March 2015
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require states to ensure access to effective remedies. The state must ensure access to complaints procedures and effective remedies as a result of its duty to protect which is established under international law. Victims of human rights violations by companies should have the ability to require effective mechanisms for dispute resolution and redress. This can be reached both through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. While the legal requirements for judicial redress procedures at the international level have yet to be created, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises with their complaint mechanism on government level offer a soft law approach. In this paper, ECCHR evaluates the OECD procedures against the companies Gamma (United Kingdom) and Trovicor, KiK, C&A and Karl Rieker (Germany) regarding their trade in surveillance technique.
Make Way for Justice: Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2015
Report by ECCHR, FIDH und TRIAL, April 2015
Universal jurisdiction is a key component in the fight against impunity, in addition to a State’s competence to exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory (territorial jurisdiction), crimes committed by one of its nationals (active personality principle) or against one of its nationals (passive personality principle). This first “Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review: Make way for Justice” is a retrospective of the relevant developments in twelve countries where universal jurisdiction proceedings took place in 2014. Based on 37 case studies the findings in this report demonstrate that despite obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes under international law, a significant practice has taken shape globally over the course of 2014. In the majority of the identified countries, civil society, victims and/or lawyers have been the driving force behind universal jurisdiction cases, while, in others, criminal justice authorities pro-actively seek to prevent their territory from being used as a safe haven by suspected perpetrators of international crimes.
Holding Companies Accountable - Lessons from transnational human rights litigation
Booklet by ECCHR, Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR, November 2014
Encouraged by prominent human rights organizations in the Global South, Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and MISEREOR have joined forces in a project to assist local actors in taking action against transnational companies who are involved in or profi t from human rights violations. For this project, ECCHR comprehensively analyzed close to 50 individual cases of human rights violations committed by companies from all over the world.
Driving Forward Justice: Victims of Serious International Crimes in the EU
Report by ECCHR, Redress, FIDH and TRIAL, October 2014
Concerns over impunity and safe havens have led to increased efforts, in Europe and elsewhere, to strengthen systems to hold to account those accused of serious international crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and enforced disappearance.The new EU Directive on minimum standards for the rights, support and protection of victims of crime is meant to help entrench these rights across the region. This Report explains precisely how the Directive applies to victims of serious international crimes, in light of the wording of the Directive itself, and taking into account States’ pre-existing obligations towards victims under international and human rights law.
Forced labor of children and adults in Uzbekistan. How effective is the OECD complaint mechanism?
ECCHR Study, May 2013
The study is an evaluation of our seven OECD complaints against European companies that trade in cotton from Uzbekistan. Cotton there is harvested under the massive use of state-organized forced labor of children and adults. All procedures have been completed. We took this as an opportunity to comprehensively evaluate the impact of the complaints on the situation in Uzbekistan and the effectiveness of the OECD complaint mechanism as such.
"Making corporations respond to the damages they cause"
This practitioners’ guide from ECCHR is produced in cooperation with MISEREOR and “Brot für die Welt”. It discusses practical and legal elements of legal strategies to demand fair and adequate compensation from transnational corporations for human rights violations. “Making corporations respond” looks at both litigation and out-of-court approaches and how they can be strategically interconnected.
Torture in Europe: The Law and Practice, Regional Conference Report
Redress and ECCHR (eds.)
This report builds on the presentations and discussions at the Europe Regional Experts Meeting, The Law and Practice on Torture in Europe, held in Berlin, Germany on 25-27 November 2011, as well as the information shared by expert participants in their responses to the questionnaire that informed the content and structure of the meeting. It provides a review of laws, practices and patterns of torture, examining the availability and effectiveness of safeguards, accountability mechanisms and avenues to obtain reparation for torture in the countries considered.