INTERNATIONAL CRIMES AND ACCOUNTABILITY

While the law offers a great deal of potential for making the world a better place, taking the legal approach can be a challenging task. Crimes against international law such as torture and war crimes must be investigated and prosecuted. Ensuring that this occurs is our stated goal and is at the heart of our day-to-day work.
 
It is not enough to prosecute only those who carry out these acts; it is crucial that the senior figures planning and instigating such crimes are also brought to justice. When, for example, women are subjected to rape during a civil war, it is often a question of power that determines whether it is the Minister of Defense or one of the soldiers under his control that ultimately ends up on the defendant’s bench.
 
ECCHR uses a variety of legal actions and measures to enforce the rights of the weak. These range from criminal complaints to expert legal opinions, legal analyses and statements on legal policy. The scope of our work spans criminal law to civil and administrative law, as well as other complaint mechanisms. It involves seeking recourse in the states where crimes have been committed and the home states of the perpetrators, as well as applying the principle of universal jurisdiction and turning to international institutions.
 
We aim to choose cases that are exemplary of a wider problem. Abuse, targeted killings and renditions all tend to be consequences of human rights violations; often they are born of the excesses of political and military conflict.
 
Taking legal proceedings helps to expose these violations and reveal their root causes. A further welcome outcome of such legal interventions is their tendency to spark debates on legal policy at a national and international level.
 
ECCHR is currently focusing its work on the following countries and themes:

  • Grave human rights violations committed in the course of countering terrorism by the USA, the UK and their allies in Guantánamo, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as through drone strikes
  • War crimes and sexual violence in Sri Lanka
  • Grave human rights violations including murder, torture and sexual violence in Bahrain, Colombia, Chechnya, Syria and Uzbekistan
  • Dealing with the crimes of the dictatorships in Argentina and Chile (Colonia Dignidad)
  • NATO and UN responsibility in Serbia and Afghanistan
  • EU’s asylum, refugee and migration policies

Background papers:

 

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