The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has committed to strengthening partnerships with affected communities and civil society actors to serve the interests of justice and the well-being of survivors.
Launching the annual report of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), at the beginning of the 21st session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) at the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, Prosecutor Karim Khan said this will increase the transparency of the work of his office and deepen engagement with all stakeholders.
He termed the report, titled Towards a More Just World: Every Day, “…an honest attempt to increase the interface with all our partners so that we can deliver together” and listed the stakeholders as including impacted communities, state authorities, civil society, international organisations, and international and regional partners.
The 54 paged report covers the first year and a half of Khan’s mandate since he assumed office on June 16, 2021. It outlines the progress, challenges, and strategy in delivering the OTP priorities and covers a wide range of topics, including incorporating a greater field-based approach, technology, complementarity and cooperation, supporting regional approaches to accountability, and partnerships with civil society.
According to the report, Khan announced a new civil society organisations (CSOs) initiative in May 2022 to strengthen the groups’ contribution to the work of the OTP.
The initiative includes the OTP hosting of two roundtables for CSOs in a year, in addition to the ICC-CSO roundtable. The OTP will (co-)develop and publish guidance materials for CSOs to support them in engaging with witnesses and survivors in a manner that will allow the preservation of the integrity of potential testimony that could be relied on in criminal proceedings and reduce the risk of re-traumatisation.
Also, the OTP will develop a programme for engagement with national CSOs and local community-based organisations, hinged on the enhanced field presence of the OTP.
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The report said the OTP took a practical step on September 21, 2022, in the implementation of the CSO initiative through its collaboration with Eurojust and the European Network for the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (“Genocide Network”) in publishing practical guidelines for CSOs on how to document international crimes and human rights violations for accountability purposes.
“The guidelines seek to assist civil society actors wishing to document for accountability purposes to collect information in a way that preserves its integrity and strengthens the ability of accountability actors, including the office [OTP], to effectively draw on the information in investigations and prosecution,” said the report.
It further stated that the guidelines are meant to share certain principles which will ensure that local, regional, and international civil society actors will have an even greater impact on domestic and international criminal accountability processes.
The report explains that the partnerships between international justice actors and civil society actors will streamline efforts and prevent potentially harmful practices, such as the repeated interviewing of survivors of atrocity crimes, risking over-documentation and (re-)traumatisation.
The first OTP-civil society thematic roundtable was held on November 14, 2022, attended by 75 civil society actors from 11 situation countries. The talks were planned to address crimes against children and also offered an opportunity to discuss the guidelines for CSOs on documenting international crimes and human rights violations for accountability purposes, which were developed and launched by the ICC Prosecutor and Eurojust, with contributions from CSOs, national prosecutors, and international partners.
“We will continue to build on the steps taken over the course of the last year and a half in order to reach our common goal of ensuring there is no impunity for international crimes,” Khan said during the launching of the report.
Read the full report: https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/2022-12/2022-12-05-annual-report-of-the-office-of-the-prosecutor.pdf