The judicial authorities in Sweden and France have set up a joint investigation team (JIT) to support proceedings involving core international crimes committed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) against the Yezidi population in Syria and Iraq. Eurojust has supported the setting up of the JIT, which will enable the long-term coordination of investigations and the swift sharing of information and evidence. The joint efforts will also avoid multiple interviews of the same victims, who have lived through dire circumstances.
The main aim of the JIT will be to identify FTFs who were involved in core international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, primarily perpetrated against members of the Yezidi minority during the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq, in view of potential prosecution. The JIT will also focus on identifying victims and witnesses of these crimes committed by FTFs in Syria and Iraq.
Investigations in the two JIT countries are ongoing and are coordinated by Eurojust through the Swedish and French National Desks, with the support of the Genocide Network Secretariat, hosted by Eurojust. Several coordination meetings have been held and the Agency has assisted Sweden and France in setting up the team.
Eurojust can also assist the JIT countries in determining the most suitable jurisdiction for prosecution and provide advice to prevent multiple legal actions against perpetrators for the same offence, thereby avoiding a breach of the so-called ne bis in idem principle.
The authorities involved in the JIT will cooperate with the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) pursuant to its mandate.
Furthermore, the JIT Members will seek the assistance of the 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 (IIIM). Both organisations hold a significant amount of evidence and expertise in investigating core international crimes, which may be crucial in establishing the crimes committed.
The investigative efforts of the JIT will be of added value to the judiciary in other EU Member States or third countries, who want to end the impunity of FTFs involved in core international crimes such as slavery or sexual violence against members of the Yezidi community.
Combatting impunity for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity is the principal goal of the Genocide Network at Eurojust. It actively supports judicial authorities who are bringing cumulative charges for terrorism and core international crimes, in order to get justice done.
Authorities in several Member States have already brought cumulative charges for terrorism and core international crimes. Combatting impunity by bringing cumulative charges was the central theme of the successful 5thEU Day Against Impunity organised in 2020, and has since seen a steady increase in judiciaries across the European Union.