Genocide Network

Genocide Network

The European Network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (‘Genocide Network’) was established in 2002 and reinforced in 2003 by the Council of the European Union to enable close cooperation between the national authorities when investigating and prosecuting the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, known collectively as core international crimes. The Network’s mandate is to ensure perpetrators do not attain impunity within the Member States.

EU States are represented in the Genocide Network through national Contact Points, comprising specialised and dedicated prosecutors, investigators and officers for mutual legal assistance. The Contact Points provide operational support to their colleagues at national and European Union level in the form of judicial cooperation. The Network provides a platform for practitioners to exchange operational information and share experience and best practice through biannual meetings. The Network is a unique forum, with Member State national authorities joining Observer States and associate organisations from the European Union, United Nations and beyond, as well as civil society, in a common goal: the fight against impunity.

Eurojust’s role

The Genocide Network Secretariat was established in 2011 and is hosted by Eurojust. The Secretariat forms part of the Eurojust staff, functioning as a separate unit, and draws on Eurojust’s administrative resources to perform its tasks.

Eurojust has Observer Status within the Network, joining selected non-EU States, Europol and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC-OTP). With the introduction of the new Eurojust Regulation in 2019, the Agency has also assumed a central role in coordinating the fight against core international crimes. Together, Eurojust and the Network enable close cooperation and information exchange between national authorities. Due to the often complex nature of cross-border investigations, the Agency’s support through judicial tools such as coordination meetings and coordination centres is a key success factor in many cases.

Eurojust also provides practical, legal and financial support to joint investigation teams (JITs), which often stem from the observations and groundwork of the Genocide Network. Moreover, investigations benefit from the Agency’s global network of Liaison Prosecutors and Contact Points, giving prosecutors quick access to more than 50 jurisdictions around the world.

Main activities

Judicial coordination of investigations and prosecutions

Eurojust and the Genocide Network support the investigation and prosecution of core international crimes at national level, for example by facilitating joint approaches and enabling effective sharing of operational information, evidence, knowledge and resources.

Facilitating joint investigations

Joint investigation teams (JITs) enable authorities to work together closely and efficiently during cross-border investigations of core international crimes. Eurojust provides operational and financial support to the JIT partners, including setting up the JIT, often building on the insight and observations of the Genocide Network.

Supporting cumulative prosecutions

Eurojust and the Genocide Network advocate and support the cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), to ensure full and comprehensive prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, in addition to terrorism-related offences, such as membership of terrorist organisations.

Sharing awareness and best practice and supporting training activities

With limited understanding of core international crimes in many parts of the world, Eurojust and the Genocide Network play an important role in raising awareness among non-specialist judicial practitioners. This work is channelled through close cooperation with national authorities, including prosecutors and law enforcement. The Genocide Network also engages in training activities and capacity building projects in partnership with other organisations, such as the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL).

Genocide Network meetings

Genocide NetworkThe Genocide Network gathers biannually at meetings convened by the EU Council Presidency. In this forum, the EU Member States’ national authorities coordinate their ongoing investigations and prosecutions of people suspected of having committed, or participated in the commission of, the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. At the same time, they share investigative, prosecutorial and trial experiences on these crimes, related methods and best practice.

The Genocide Network organises meetings twice each year which allow practitioners to exchange operational information, knowledge, problem-solving techniques and practical examples. The meetings are divided into two sessions:

  • an open session for all Genocide Network members, observer States, representatives from liaison organisations and civil society to exchange best practice, knowledge and experience on different topics relating to the investigation and prosecution of core international crimes; and

  • a closed session held solely for national contacts points and their counterparts from observer States to share confidential operational information on current investigations and legal challenges relating to core international crimes.

The conclusions of previous Genocide Network meetings, outlining topics discussed and challenges faced, are available below. The Network Secretariat organises further ad hoc meetings upon request of one or more Member States concerning a specific case, situation or topic.

 

28th Genocide Network meeting, 5-6 November 2020 | Conclusions

  • 1st video conference meeting due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Accountability for the core international crimes committed in Libya and interlinkages with other crime areas, such as migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings, violations of sanctions regime and terrorism
  • Admission of the European Asylum Support Office (Exclusion Network) as an Associate
  • Admission of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) as an Associate
  • Presentation of the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM)
  • Nomination of a new Steering Board member
  • Access to Justice in Europe for Victims of International Crimes
  • Update on the Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of the most serious international crimes
 

Twenty-seventh meeting of the Genocide Network, 6-7 November 2019 | Conclusions

  • Presentations on the possibilities and opportunities for prosecuting foreign fighters for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to combat impunity
  • Cumulative prosecution for counter terrorism offences and war crimes in jurisprudence and practice of EU national authorities
  • Challenges and advantages in prosecuting foreign fighters for core international crimes and terrorism offences on national level
  • Cooperation with UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh / Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD)
  • Access to information, evidence, and link to victims and witnesses – presentations by Yazda, CIJA and on the battlefield information
  • Humanitarian and legal concerns in relation to the treatment and detention of foreign fighters by the ICRC
  • Update on the Secretariat’s activities and civil society
  • Overview of cases and contributions of participating states by Europol’s Analysis Project on Core International Crimes (AP CIC)
  • Update on the first Steering Board meeting on 1 October 2019
  • Decision of the Network on applications for Observer and Associate Status
 

Twenty-sixth meeting of the Genocide Network, 22-23 May 2019 | Conclusions

  • Update on Europol’s Analysis Project on Core International Crimes (AP CIC)
  • Breakout sessions on the topics of Access and cooperation with Liberia, Cooperation with and extradition to Rwanda and Crimes against Yezidi
  • Presentations on EU funding possibilities for national authorities in strengthening or setting up ‘war crimes’ programmes or specialised units (SRSS, TAIEX)
  • Joint investigation team between France and Germany on crimes committed by the Syrian regime
  • The significant increase in cases related to core international crimes
  • Evaluation of the Genocide Network Secretariat’s performance
  • Update on the Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of the most serious international crimes
  • The next training programme on the investigation and prosecution of core international crimes in EU and the impact of refugees, 18-20 September 2019 in Nuremberg
  • Election of a Steering Board, in accordance with the Guidelines on the Functioning of the Network adopted at the 25th Network meeting in November 2018
  • Consideration of new applications for Observer and Associate Status
 

Twenty-fifth meeting of the Genocide Network, 14-15 November 2018 | Conclusions

  • Adoption of the Guidelines on the Functioning of the Network, principles that supplement the Network’s legal basis (Council Decision 2002/494/JHA and Council Decision 2003/335/JHA)
  • Discussion on the issue of secondary trauma as a health risk for investigators, prosecutors, interpreters and other associated staff of authorities and organisations dedicated to the pursuit of criminal accountability for core international crimes
  • Identification of clinical aspects and measures to prevent secondary trauma
  • Relevance of organisational preventive programmes and the role of management
  • Exposure of interpreters and pertinent protective measures
  • Membership of the Network in the International Association of Prosecutors
  • Cooperation possibilities with the Ukrainian authorities in investigating and prosecuting crimes
  • Relevance and value of SIRIUS project (Europol-Eurojust) in relation to internet-based investigations
  • Adoption of the new Eurojust Regulation and explicit Eurojust competences relating to core international crimes
 

Twenty-fourth meeting of the Genocide Network, 24-25 May 2018 | Conclusions

  • Europol Analysis Project Core International Crimes (AP CIC)
  • Admission of Bosnia Herzegovina as Observer
  • Admission of International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 (IIIM) as an Associate
  • Preservation of open source information available on social media in the context of investigation and prosecution of core international crimes
  • Policies of Google/YouTube and Facebook regarding preservation of open source information and tools for cooperation with judicial or law enforcement authorities
  • Relevance of documentation and analysis provided by Bellingcat and the EyeWitness Project for national authorities
  • Domestic authorities’ and ICC’s experience in prosecuting core international crimes based on open source information
  • Use of preservation requests and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests to obtain content or non-content data from social media providers and/or the US authorities
  • Criminal investigations and proceedings in Germany in relation to the crime of genocide committed against Yazidis in Northern Iraq since 2014 and the work of the Office of Amal Clooney providing support to the affected community
  • International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP)
  • Third EU Day against Impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes
 

Twenty-third meeting of the Genocide Network, 25-27 October 2017 | Conclusions

  • Accountability for crimes in Syria – the UN International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM)
  • Effective cooperation between Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and national authorities in investigating and prosecuting core international crime
  • Documentation methodologies of NGOs and modalities of sharing collected information with national authorities
  • The use of NGOs documentation and information by national authorities in domestic proceedings
  • Benefits and risks to collaboration between NGOs and national authorities
  • Areas of NGOs support to the work of national authorities: advocacy, research, outreach, support of victims and capacity building
  • Monitoring the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine by OSCE and its legal assessment
  • Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of core international crimes
 

Twenty-second meeting of the Genocide Network, 29th - 30th March 2017 | Conclusions

  • Recent advancements of the EU agencies in the field of fighting impunity and resulting synergies and potential for improved cooperation
  • Current trends in immigration flow and FRONTEX’s support to national authorities investigating and prosecuting core international crimes
  • EASO Network on exclusion of refugees according Art 1F of the 1951 Refugee Convention (‘1F Network’) and possible support to national authorities fighting impunity
  • Report of Europol’s activities towards implementing the new competencies on core international crimes and presentation of tools, products and deliverables
  • Immigrant smuggling and the link with the fight against impunity: role of Eurojust in international judicial cooperation
  • Specific challenges in relation to the situation in Syria and Northern Iraq: presentation of recent cases from Germany and Sweden
  • Establishment of the UN International, Independent and Impartial Mechanism for investigating persons responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria since March 2011
  • Mandate and findings of OHCHR Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea
  • Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of core international crimes
  • Update on activities of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations
  • Budgetary situation at Eurojust and implications for the Network
 

Twenty-first meeting of the Genocide Network, 12th – 13th October 2016 | Conclusions

  • Investigation and prosecution of crimes related to looting and destruction of cultural heritage in actual conflict areas as core international crimes
  • Protection of cultural heritage in armed conflicts from the perspective of international humanitarian law
  • Alternative legal approaches to the investigation and prosecution of the destruction and looting of antiquities in the context of national law
  • Investigating and prosecuting crimes committed against cultural heritage at the level of ICC and ICTY
  • Monitoring, documenting and fact-finding activities related to the current situation in Syria and Iraq concerning the destruction and looting of cultural heritage
  • Collecting information and documenting of stolen artefacts from current conflict areas. Views on the possible routes and volume of illicit trade in cultural property
  • Council of Europe’s initiative for a Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property
 

Twentieth meeting of the Genocide Network, 24th-25th May 2016 | Conclusions

  • Launch of the first annual EU Day Against Impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on 23 May 2016, jointly organised by the Netherlands EU Presidency, the European Commission, the Network and Eurojust
  • Kosovo Special Investigation Task Force to combat impunity for atrocities committed in Kosovo and the establishment of the new Kosovo Tribunal
  • Initiative for a survey on specialised units for investigating, prosecuting and trying core international crimes in the EU Network Member and Observer States and implementation of rights of victims in such proceedings
  • Report of Europol on the inclusion of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in their future scope of competence
  • The future competencies of Eurojust, with an explicit reference to the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes Network’s intention to set up a Working Group, including members of Eurojust and Europol, to explore and propose a line of action, taking into account the new context and the new possibilities offered by Europol and Eurojust
  • Criminal proceedings against leaders of the FDLR in Germany, demonstrating the specifics connected with criminal proceedings regarding core international crimes on domestic level
  • Difficulties encountered by the legal representation of victims in core international crimes cases
  • Potential of civil society in addressing specific challenges related to investigations and prosecutions of core international crimes Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of the core international crimes
  • Implementation of the first training programme on core international crimes for judges and prosecutors at EU level on 30 November and 1 and 2 December 2015 in The Hague
  • Significant increase in number of cases in the investigative or prosecutorial phase in the majority of jurisdictions present in the Network, requiring additional resources
 

Nineteenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 21st-22nd October 2015 | Conclusions

  • International humanitarian law criteria for categorization of armed conflicts into international or non-international, combatant status, the criteria for the fundamental distinction between civilians and combatants, including the notion of a continuous combatant function, and the clarification of the crucial notion of direct participation of civilians in hostilities in contemporary conflicts
  • Prosecuting diverse participants of contemporary armed conflicts under various sets of legislation relating to core international crimes, to ordinary crimes and to crimes relating to counter terrorism
  • Mercenaries, private military and security companies and foreign fighters in the perspective of international humanitarian law European Investigation Order (EIO)
  • Report and findings of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka’s armed conflict
  • Implementation of the first training programme on core international crimes for judges and prosecutors at the EU level in cooperation with the European Judicial training Network (EJTN)
  • Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of the core international crimes
 

Eighteenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 22nd-23rd April 2015 | Conclusions

  • Open source information and earth observation systems in core international crimes
  • Confidentiality as a principle of the International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding bodies
  • Adoption of the Proposal to European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) for a Training Programme on core international crimes
  • Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of the core international crimes
 

Seventeenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 30th-31st October 2014 | Conclusions

  • Financial investigations and asset recovery in cases of core international crimes
  • Cooperation with the Registry of the ICC
  • Crimes committed in Syria
  • Adoption of the Strategy of the Genocide Network to combat impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within the European Union and its Member States
  • Exploring a joint training programme with the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN)
  • Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for the domestic prosecution of core international crimes
 

Sixteenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 21st-22nd May 2014 | Conclusions

  • Establishing a Network of specialised prosecutors in Africa – activities of the African Union
  • Sexual and gender-based violent crimes under international criminal law
  • Initiative for the International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • Manual for the investigation and prosecution of crimes of sexual violence
  • Sexual Violence against Males
 

Fifteenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 29th-30th October 2013 | Conclusions

  • Accession of Croatia - experiences in prosecuting serious international crimes
  • Criminal responsibility of corporations and business persons for serious international crimes
  • Initiative for improved EU engagement in the fight against impunity in the field of Justice and Home Affairs
 

Fourteenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 17th-18th April 2013 | Conclusions

  • International rules on the immunity of State officials from the criminal jurisdiction of a foreign State
  • Genocide Network information sharing tools
  • Initiative for a new Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for domestic prosecution of core international crimes
 

Thirteenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 7th-8th November 2012 | Conclusions

  • Enhancing cooperation between immigration authorities and law enforcement/prosecution services in investigating and prosecuting core international crimes
  • Collecting information on crimes in the ongoing conflict in Syria
  • Establishing joint investigation teams in cases of core international crimes
 

Twelfth meeting of the Genocide Network, 24th-25th April 2012 | Conclusions

  • Immigration procedures and the identification of perpetrators, victims and witnesses
  • Requirements for the effective investigation/prosecution of cases based on Article 1F of the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
  • Cooperation with immigration authorities
  • The case of the International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’) on the ‘Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite’ (Belgium v. Senegal) and its implications for national prosecution authorities
 

Eleventh meeting of the Genocide Network, 23rd-24th November 2011 | Conclusions

  • Evaluation of Council Decisions 2002/494/JHA and 2003/335/JHA
  • International legal cooperation between States
  • Protection of witnesses
 

Tenth meeting of the Genocide Network, 28th-29th April 2011 | Conclusions

  • The role of coordinator of the Genocide Network’s Secretariat
  • The international framework for international legal cooperation
  • EU developments regarding the Genocide Network
  • Tools for asset confiscation and recovery
 

Ninth meeting of the Genocide Network, 14th-15th October 2010 | Conclusions

  • International Legal Cooperation between States
  • The application of extraterritorial jurisdiction by States
  • Protection and identification of witnesses
  • The specific status of the ICRC
  • State of play of international tribunals
 

Eighth meeting of the Genocide Network, 27th–28th May 2010 | Conclusions

  • Cooperation between States
  • Cooperation between States and International Tribunals
  • The Stockholm Programme and the Action Plan – implications for the Genocide Network
 

Seventh meeting of the Genocide Network, 7th December 2009 | Conclusions unavailable

  • Cooperation with Rwandan authorities
  • Future meetings and work programme
  • The role of the Secretariat
  • Role, tasks and other needs of the contact points
 

Sixth meeting of the Genocide Network, 23rd-24th April 2009 | Conclusions

  • Accountability of Rwandan genocide suspects – issues and challenges
  • Relationship between Eurojust and the EU Genocide Network
  • Developments regarding the EU/African Union relationship
  • Legal Aspects of Investigation/Prosecution of genocide and war crime cases in the EU Member States and Observer Countries
  • Gathering and transfer of evidence from the ground to the courts; Victims and Witnesses protection
  • Establishment and role of specialised national/international units, immigration departments and Interpol
  • Maintaining a strong relationship with the ad hoc tribunals and the ICC
  • Ensuring the proper functioning of the EU Genocide Network
  • The role of the Secretariat within Eurojust under the new Eurojust decision
 

Fifth meeting of the Genocide Network, 17th–18th March 2008 | Conclusions

  • Current war crimes prosecutions in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia
  • Judicial cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • Experiences of the European Union and observer countries in the prosecution of international crimes committed in the Balkans
 

Fourth meeting of the Genocide Network, 7th-8th May 2007 | Conclusions

  • Practice of investigations and trials in Rwanda by Rwandan authorities
  • The completion strategy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
  • Victims and witnesses in the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed in Rwanda
  • The role of NGOs in identifying witnesses and victims and encouraging cooperation
 

Third meeting of the Genocide Network, 22nd-23rd May 2006 | Conclusions

  • Cooperation between the Genocide Network, the Institutions of the European Union and EU Member States' liaison officers
  • The War Crimes Database of Interpol
  • The ICC Legal Tools Project
  • The role of NGOs in investigations into genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes
  • The role of civil society in monitoring trials of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, both nationally and internationally
  • Cooperation between war crime units and ethnic groups
 

Second meeting of the Genocide Network, 28th-29th June 2005 | Conclusions

  • Cooperation with Interpol
  • Arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Tribunals
 

First meeting of the Genocide Network, 23rd-24th November 2004 | Conclusions

  • The ICC and Member States – complementarity in practice
  • National experiences with the prosecution of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity

EU Day against Impunity

Organised by the EU Presidency, the European Commission, Eurojust and the Genocide Network, the EU Day against Impunity is an important measure to combat impunity for core international crimes in the Member States, bringing together decision-makers, practitioners and other parties involved in combating such crimes.

First taking place on 23 May 2016, this annual event aims to raise awareness of the nature of core international crimes and the importance of Member State-led investigations and prosecutions in preventing impunity. The event also highlights the work of national authorities in enforcing international criminal law, as well as the position and participation of victims in criminal proceedings for these crimes.

The event is attended by practitioners, representatives of international tribunals, Member States, the European institutions and international organisations, NGOs, academics, lawyers and the media.

For more information about the EU Day against Impunity and the full reports of its editions, please see this page.

Reports and case law

Key resources and publications

In November 2014, the Genocide Network adopted the Strategy of the EU Genocide Network to combat impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within the European Union and its Member States. The Strategy (available here), based on the experience of practitioners and past meetings of the Genocide Network, identifies best practice and includes a list of recommendations for EU Member States and Institutions to combat impunity of core international crimes. It was endorsed by the JHA ministers’ Council Conclusions in 2015.

In November 2018, the Network adopted the Guidelines on the Functioning of the Network. This document includes principles that supplement the Network’s legal basis (Council Decision 2002/494/JHA and Council Decision 2003/335/JHA) by providing a detailed framework on the Network’s composition, facilitating requests from non-EU Member States to participate in meetings, determining the level of engagement of national contact points and the nature of different sessions, and by outlining the existing practices of the functioning of the Network.


Expert reports and collection of national case law

The Genocide Network and its Secretariat have produced expert papers on a number of topics, including the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on core international crimes, on prosecution for war crimes of outrage upon personal dignity based on evidence from open sources, and on cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters.

The reports are prepared by the Genocide Network Secretariat (GNS) for informative purposes only. They are available for download in English here.


Collection of recent national jurisprudence

The Secretariat also collects recent national jurisprudence on core international crimes and provides unofficial translations in English.

Please note that the translations have been provided as a courtesy of the Genocide Network Secretariat and Eurojust and are not official translations of the cases. The judgements are publicly available in their respective jurisdiction and have been anonymised by the Network Secretariat.


Further reading

Find here more information on the specific challenges of core international crimes. Additionally, this factsheet provides a comprehensive overview of the successful cooperation between Eurojust and the Genocide Network, along with a number of case examples.

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