CIVIL SOCIETY INFORMATION COLLECTION FOR INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY BODIES
Information collected by organizations on serious violations of international law can be used for multiple purposes, including: to provide context or leads for investigators; as support for submissions to human rights and treaty complaint bodies; as evidence in international or domestic legal proceedings; and to set a foundation for truth-telling or other reconciliation mechanisms. This brief provides considerations for civil society organizations (CSOs) potentially engaging in information collection regarding serious violations of international law against the Rohingya for use in criminal justice proceedings.
At its heart, CSOs engaging in information collection must ‘do no harm:’ they must take responsibility for the risks to those providing information, to the information itself, and to those collecting information.
A non-exhaustive overview, this brief focuses on information collection that may be compiled for eventual use by the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) or used in matters before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the International Court of Justice (ICJ). While this brief focuses on engagement with international judicial bodies, the guidance provided in collecting information is also relevant where members seek to provide assistance to domestic prosecutors under universal jurisdiction. It does not address broader information collection for human rights bodies.
UNIVERSAL CRIMINAL JURISDICTION SCOPING
National prosecution for egregious international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity is vital to international justice and accountability. Where it is not possible or practical to prosecute in the state in which the crime took place, international law has developed several forms of jurisdiction in which an accused may be prosecuted in other states—including the state of the perpetrator’s nationality and the state of the victim’s nationality. The exercise of universal jurisdiction permits a state to prosecute when the crime neither took place on its soil nor involved its nationals. Thus, the exercise of universal jurisdiction can fill an important gap to prevent impunity where States that are directly affected are unwilling or unable to bring a prosecution.
This scoping paper provides a review of scholarship and commentary on the use of universal jurisdiction in international criminal matters. It notes that the exercise of universal jurisdiction, while growing, is still a relatively novel concept. Pursuing such matters is resource-intensive and success is not guaranteed. Because of this, it is important to examine which, how, and whether Forum State courts may be inclined to exercise universal criminal jurisdiction—one of many potential avenues for justice. Thus, this scoping paper’s purpose is to assist in determining how, and to what extent, the Coalition may pursue the exercise of universal criminal jurisdiction regarding international crimes against the Rohingya. This may be applicable more broadly to other contexts as well.