LYON, France – International experts on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are meeting at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters to share their expertise and enhance information sharing and cooperation so as to better prevent, investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Centred around the theme ‘Information for Justice’, the three-day (20-22 November) INTERPOL Fifth International Expert Meeting on Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity brings together some 150 law enforcement and judicial experts from 44 countries, as well as representatives from more than 20 international organizations, to discuss intelligence gathering and sharing, investigations, prosecutions, training and capacity building.
Keynote speakers on Tuesday included Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY); Michel de Smedt, Head of Investigations Division, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court; and Stephen Rapp, Ambassador-at-large, Office of Global Criminal Justice, US Department of State.
ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz described the INTERPOL meeting as a ‘very important opportunity’ for the assembled experts to ‘invest in working together and put into place mechanisms to facilitate the exchange of information'. Mr Brammertz highlighted the need for international law enforcement to investigate the role of organized crime networks in facilitating or exploiting acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
INTERPOL supports national authorities, international criminal tribunals and courts investigating genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity through its Fugitive Investigative Support unit, law enforcement tools, services and training. INTERPOL Red Notices, or international wanted persons alerts, notify police about individuals wanted for these crimes, with almost 850 notices currently issued for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Investigations into war crimes are extremely complex. Bringing together international experts to share their knowledge is part of INTERPOL’s ongoing commitment to support the efforts of its 190 member countries to protect their citizens through the location and arrest of suspected war criminals so that they are brought to justice,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble after meeting with Mr Brammertz.
In this respect, the conference heard how Védaste Banguwiha, wanted by INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Kigali for alleged complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity, was detained in October by authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after he was identified from a single hit when immigration records were cross-checked against INTERPOL’s global wanted persons database.
INTERPOL’s Director of Operational Police Services, Mick O'Connell, added: “INTERPOL has assisted and supported International Criminal Tribunals and Courts and national authorities in achieving extremely important results in their investigation on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes cases. International investigations are being enhanced, and prominent war criminals and mass atrocities perpetrators have been identified, located and brought to justice. Yet plenty of work remains,” with nine fugitives for example still wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and more than 130 Red Notices issued at the request of NCB Kigali still outstanding.
Other topics to be discussed include refugee protection, international cooperation in tracking perpetrators, legal assistance and case studies involving the Balkans, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Rwanda.
At the close of the meeting, participants will adopt a set of recommendations for improving the global response to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.