Justice across borders: Survivor and civil society perspectives on universal jurisdiction in Germany

29 June 2022, 5:00 pm

Mitosis LAB
Sonnenallee 67, 12045 Berlin

Struggles for justice and accountability are not confined by borders. When the gravest crimes are committed – war crimes, genocide, or crimes against humanity – the principle of universal jurisdiction (UJ) comes into play. It triggers the possibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible in any country that incorporates the principle into its legal framework, regardless of where the crimes occurred. The argument: such crimes not only impact the country where they took place, but concern humanity as a whole. A prominent example of a UJ case in recent years is the conviction of Anwar R in Germany in January 2022, a Syrian ex-officer who tortured detainees in the infamous al-Khatib detention center.

However, while UJ offers exciting hope to many survivors of international crimes around the world, its reality is often more complicated.

In conjunction with the 20-year anniversary of Germany’s universal jurisdiction legislation, ECCHR is gathering some of our long-term and newer partners engaging with German courts in their struggles for justice – from Syria, Belarus, the Gambia and Kashmir – for a critical exchange. Our guests will share updates on the situations in their home countries and reflect on their expectations, hopes, doubts and challenges regarding their efforts in Germany.

The event will open with an introduction by ECCHR’s Program Director Andreas Schüller recapping developments in the German UJ landscape in recent years, moving on to a panel discussion with human rights defenders and legal practitioners from Syria, Belarus, the Gambia and Kashmir sharing their experiences. The panel will be followed by a world café format in which we open up space for interpersonal exchange and discussion. After that, we invite you to a light reception.

The event marks the end of a two-day workshop titled: “A critical exchange on universal jurisdiction and shrinking civic space: Towards linking struggles and co-creating counterstrategies.”

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