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TRIAL INTERNATIONAL — Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2020 — Terrorism and international crimes: prosecuting atrocities for what they are

TRIAL INTERNATIONAL — Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2020 — Terrorism and international crimes: prosecuting atrocities for what they are
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Six years ago, we pub­lished the first Uni­ver­sal Juris­dic­tion Annu­al Review (UJAR) with the view to explain and democ­ra­tize this legal tool. What uni­ver­sal juris­dic­tion was and how it worked remained at the time wide­ly unknown to those who were not legal experts. And even with­in the legal com­mu­ni­ty, it met with sub­stan­tial skep­ti­cism.
A few years lat­er the UJAR – its num­ber of pages steadi­ly increas­ing – start­ed to focus on best prac­tices and suc­cess­ful lit­i­ga­tion strate­gies. As vic­tims from war-struck Syr­ia and Iraq took refuge in Europe, the num­ber of uni­ver­sal juris­dic­tion cas­es increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly, often ini­ti­at­ed by nation­al author­i­ties them­selves. For many indi­vid­u­als, seek­ing jus­tice in their host coun­try was the only option, and so the debate shift­ed from whether to use uni­ver­sal juris­dic­tion to how. It is our hope that the UJAR, con­ceived as a con­crete tool for prac­ti­tion­ers, encour­aged this trend.
This year, the UJAR focus­es on the risks of con­fus­ing the pros­e­cu­tion of inter­na­tion­al crimes with the fight against ter­ror­ism. The impli­ca­tions of choos­ing prag­ma­tism to the detri­ment of sound legal prin­ci­ples are sub­stan­tial, and the con­se­quences poten­tial­ly grave. All mass atroc­i­ties should be ful­ly and dili­gent­ly inves­ti­gat­ed, even if such inves­ti­ga­tions are longer and more stren­u­ous.
And yet. Look­ing back and mea­sur­ing how far we have come in these past six years, we are hope­ful that uni­ver­sal juris­dic­tion has root­ed deeply enough to over­come this trend. The first UJARs were enti­tled Make way for Jus­tice. We are con­vinced that the way has been made, that a breach has indeed been opened in the wall of impuni­ty. Now we must keep up the fight to ensure all mass atroc­i­ties, regard­less of who com­mit­ted them and where, are pros­e­cut­ed for what they are: inter­na­tion­al crimes.
As usu­al, we rely on your sup­port to achieve this goal, and wish you an inter­est­ing reading.

Philip Grant
TRIAL Inter­na­tion­al Exec­u­tive Director

Valerie Paulet
Project Coor­di­na­tor

 

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