Evidentiary Challenges in Universal Jurisdiction Cases

Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2019

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR),
TRIAL International,
Fundación Internacional Baltasar Garzón (FIBGAR),
Federation Internationale de Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)

2018 has shown – Universal Jurisdiction has the potential to curb impunity for international crimes around the world. With their 5th Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review (#UJAR), ECCHR and its partners TRIAL, FIBGAR, REDRESS and FIDH lay out the challenges when gathering evidence for universal jurisdiction, to simultaneously highlight solutions and good practices to overcome these challenges.

The report gathers selected cases of 2018 which illustrate the complexity inherent in fighting for justice from remote. While great progress was achieved in some cases, such as the issuance of arrest warrants against high-level Syrian intelligence officials in France and Germany, other cases had to been abandoned or are on hold. However, from these cases, whether successful or not, we can draw lessons and apply them to different contexts.

The annual review shows: To overcome these evidentiary challenges collaboration between all involved actors is crucial. If survivors, prosecutors, lawyers, investigators, victims' association, diasporas, NGOs and media join and work together, obstacles from the protection of victims and witnesses to tracking down suspects can be coped with. Implementing these ways of collaboration in practice, that is what we strive for in our day to day work.

This report can help as a practical tool and thereby aims to inspire judicial actors resorting to universal jurisdiction. That shall allow the global fight against impunity to continue to gain strength.

The Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review has been researched and written by Valérie Paulet, Project Coordinator at TRIAL International, in collaboration with REDRESS, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the International Foundation Baltasar Garzón (FIBGAR). It benefited from the generous support of the City of Geneva, the Oak Foundation and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.