From Nuremberg to the independent and impartial mechanism on Syria
Almost 75 years after the opening of the Nuremberg Trial on 20 November 1945, this round table has brought together various speakers from the field of international criminal law: representatives of the French and British prosecution services and international specialised bodies, but also academics, as well as representatives of NGOs, whose presence was intended to contribute to a reflection on the evolution of practices over the past decades.
For several years, States have indeed demonstrated a growing willingness to address the issue of the repression of crimes committed outside their borders, where their national legislation so permits. This is how the first trial related to the Rwandan genocide was held in Paris in 2014. This initiative saw Pascal Simbikangwa, a former senior civil servant and captain of the Rwandan army, sentenced to 25 years’ criminal imprisonment for involvement in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994. In 2017, the British War Crimes Police Unit also addressed the issue by prosecuting Agnes Taylor, the former wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, for acts of torture committed in Liberia between 1988 and 1991, whose trial is expected to take place in the coming months.
In parallel with these convictions, new international mechanisms have been created. In 2016, the international, impartial and independent mechanism to facilitate investigations of the most serious violations of international law committed in Syria since 2011 was established. In this context, discussions with the speakers at the round table focused on three major issues in international criminal justice: new forms of cooperation between States and with international institutions, the fundamental importance of the evidence-gathering phase and the prospects for development in the coming years.