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HAS UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION COME OF AGE?

“It seems like every week, across a variety of situations, there’s a new universal jurisdiction case. We used to count case by case to see how this phenomenon was growing. Now we wonder whether it’s a standard response by victims’ rights groups, to look for openings.” This is what our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts have observed and in their latest podcast they look into a range of situations and sources of information on these cases where a court is seized of a crime that was committed in faraway places by an individual who is a citizen from a different country. Their guests Pavani Nagaraja Bhat of Fortify Rights, Clémence Bectarte of FIDH, and Amal Clooney of Clooney Foundation for Justice, discuss current universal jurisdiction cases on Myanmar in Germany and on Syria in France. There are 148 states that have a law that may allow to prosecute a crime committed abroad, says Clooney, but only 20 of them have used it over the last three decades and only 60 cases have resulted in a conviction. Is universal jurisdiction progressing or is the constant knocking on doors frustrating and not getting anywhere? Ask Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg.

[© Munir Uz Zaman / AFP]

It seems like every week, across a variety of situations, there’s a new universal jurisdiction case – that’s basically where the crimes have taken place in a different country. We used to count case by case to see how this phenomenon was growing. Now we wonder whether it’s a standard response by victims’ rights groups, to look for openings.


In the podcast we mention a range of situations, and a few links we think could be useful. To start we covered the issues of victims’ access in a podcast back in 2021. Currently there’s the Swiss case against the former interior minister of The Gambia, Ousman Sonko, on charges of crimes against humanity.


Then there’s the annual review of universal jurisdiction, conducted by Swiss NGO, Trial International. France has been an outlier when compared to other European states, with the very narrow approach it has had to UJ. French courts have now ruled that three high-ranking Syrian officials could be tried – in absentia -for their alleged involvement in the deaths of Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick, who were arrested in Damascus by Syrian intelligence services in 2013. We also cover the request to Germany to open a structural investigation into crimes in Myanmar, not only during the expulsion of the Rohingya but also since the military coup in 2021.


We also look at the new Clooney Foundation for Justice’s shiny tool, Justice Beyond Borders, to check out what types of universal jurisdiction can happen where. Stephanie tried out Cuba on the website and decided that genocidaires could have a hard time hiding out there.

 

(c) 2023, JusticeInfo.net

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