INTERPOL war crimes conference aims to develop global expertise

18 May 2009

OSLO, Norway – International and domestic prosecutions and the issue of international jurisdiction are among the key areas to be discussed at INTERPOL’s Fourth International Expert Meeting on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity which opened in Oslo today.

Bringing together over 200 law enforcement and judicial experts from 36 countries and representatives from a dozen international organizations, the three-day meeting opened on the theme of peace versus justice.

Addressing the delegates, Norway’s National Police Commissioner, Ms. Ingelin Killengreen, said that the complexity and seriousness of the crimes on the conference’s agenda represented challenges to the entire world of law enforcement and segments of the criminal justice chain.

“A number of challenges have been increased by a globalised society where mobility is enhanced and where the crimes committed in conflicts anywhere in the world will become our common responsibility,” the Police Commissioner said.

With an increasing number of countries establishing specialized units to investigate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the conference is part of INTERPOL’s ongoing support in developing global expertise and follows the first ever International Training Course for Investigators concerning War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Genocide held at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon earlier this year.

Opening the conference, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin, said that as the world’s largest police organization, INTERPOL was ideally placed to assist each of its 187 member countries develop war crimes investigation expertise.

“Investigations into war crimes are extremely complex and while we have seen significant achievements, there still remains much to be done,” said Mr Louboutin.

“Bringing together international experts to share their knowledge is part of INTERPOL’s ongoing commitment in this area to support the efforts of our member countries to protect their citizens through the location and arrest of suspected war criminals so that they are brought to justice to account for their alleged actions.”

One way in which INTERPOL assists investigations is through the publication of Red Notices, or international wanted persons notices, with nearly 800 notices currently issued for genocide, war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit’s close co-operation with the International Criminal Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) and other international organizations has led to a number of arrests worldwide. To date, 11 Rwandan suspects who were the object of an INTERPOL wanted persons Red Notice requested by either the ICTR or INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Kigali have been arrested, with three of the suspects transferred to Arusha, Tanzania, to face trial at the ICTR.