Supporting the increasing use of battlefield evidence in criminal prosecutions in Europe and cumulative charges of terrorism and core international crimes
In 2020, Member States opened 12 new cases at Eurojust, focusing on the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Evidence gathered in areas of armed conflict, or battlefield evidence, including photos depicting crimes committed against civilians and fingerprints on explosive devices, is used in core international crimes cases, as well as in cases against suspects of terrorism, including returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs). The 2020 Memorandum on Battlefield Evidence, produced together with the Genocide Network and published in September 2020, shows that while there are many challenges in obtaining such data and making sure it is admissible in court, such information is increasingly used to bring both suspects of terrorism and suspects of core international crimes to trial in Europe.
‘Living without receiving justice is another kind of torture. For that reason, the gravest crimes should never go unpunished.’
Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2018 and a keynote speaker at the 2020 EU Day against Impunity
Returning FTFs can be prosecuted for all the acts committed, including terrorism-related offences and core international crimes. This approach was the main theme of the 2020 edition of the EU Day Against Impunity, organised online using Eurojust’s YouTube channel on 23 May due to COVID-19 restrictions. Keynote statements featured the Minister of Justice of Croatia, the EU Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Ms Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. National prosecutors from Germany, the Netherlands and France presented cases that illustrate possibilities for national authorities to prosecute returning FTFs for terrorism-related offences such as membership in a terrorist organisation and war crimes including pillage, slavery, enlisting child soldiers or inhumane and degrading treatment of dead persons.
A key message of the event was that terrorism charges could also be brought cumulatively with crimes against humanity or the crime of genocide. The President of Eurojust, Mr Ladislav Hamran, and the Head of the Genocide Network Secretariat, Mr Matevž Pezdirc, also provided introductory statements to the celebration. All video statements are available on Eurojust’s YouTube channel. Together with the statements, an expert report of the Genocide Network on the cumulative prosecution of FTFs and a factsheet on supporting judicial authorities in the fight against core international crimes were published. The EU Day against Impunity is also devoted to the remembrance of victims.