A call for greater international cooperation in the capture, prosecution and transfer of suspected war criminals has been issued by international justice prosecutors from around the globe.
By Karl Dowling
The Fifth Colloquium of Prosecutors, a meeting between the prosecutors of the major international criminal tribunals, was hosted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Kigali, Rwanda.
A press release issued following the meetings, which took place from 11-13 November, called on states to ensure their legal systems can effectively prosecute or extradite war crimes suspects, to fully cooperate with and execute the requests of international criminal tribunals, to become party to the Rome Statute if they have not already, and to seriously consider the adoption of a convention on the suppression and punishment of crimes against humanity.
Wide range of topics
The concept paper issued before the closed meeting took place suggested covering a wide range of topics. These included the organisation, structure and management of the tribunals, the tracking, arrest and transfer of fugitives, the exercise of universal jurisdiction, and how to strengthen the system of international criminal justice.
The suggested topics also included the management of evidence, witness management, trial preparations and the procedure for delays, international cooperation and relations with national prosecuting authorities.
The Fifth Colloquium of Prosecutors was attended by prosecutors from the ICTR, International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).
The meeting was first hosted by the ICTR in 2004 in Tanzania, the home of the Rwandan tribunal. This time it was held in Rwanda itself, the scene of the 1994 genocide. The UN estimate that 800,000 people lost their lives during the genocide.
The Colloquium of Prosecutors has also been hosted by the SCSL in 2005, jointly by the Hague-based ICC and ICTY in 2006, and in 2007 by the ECCC.
As well as covering a vast range of topics, participants visited the Gisozi and Murambi genocide memorial sites while in Rwanda.