Doha: Monday 15 April 2019
At the conclusion of the Conference on the “National, regional and international mechanisms to combat impunity and ensure accountability under international law the participants made recommendations to States, Civil Society and National, Regional and International Mechanisms, stressing the need for relevant stakeholders to implement the recommendations made by the conference and to utilize these recommendations in their work and advocacy efforts to combat impunity and ensure accountability under international law.
The conference brought together more than 200 governmental and non-governmental organizations and international experts. The conference aimed at discussing national, regional and international mechanisms to combat impunity for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law, and to ensure accountability. Towards this end, the participants took stock of the relevant international law principles, in particular the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, and the Updated Set of Principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity.
Throughout the conference, the participants made the following recommendations to various stakeholders.
• Join the Rome Statute system and accede to all human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its first optional protocol on individual communications.
• Incorporate the Rome Statute crimes into their domestic laws and establish absolute jurisdiction for international crimes, irrespective of whether the suspect is in custody or in the territory of the State.
• Encourage coalitions of like-minded States and civil society organizations to enhance the debate in the General Assembly on accountability.
• Enhance political accountability by advocating for an end to arms sales, in particular in conflict contexts.
• Support institutions contributing to the responsibility to protect in order to enhance accountability at the national level.
• Create joint investigative teams of prosecutors from different countries and enhance international cooperation with regard to evidence sharing, extradition and mutual legal assistance.
• Ensure that war crimes investigations remain free and protected from political pressure.
• Establish a research Centre in the MENA region allowing for exchanges of experiences and lessons learned in promoting accountability, bringing the knowledge available within OHCHR and of international experts to shape practical and technical recommendations.
• Develop a list of national remedies available to victims; and ensure public dissemination, including to other States to promote international cooperation.
• Ensure transparency and access to information and create space for community media to support access to information.
• Organize events at the regional, national and international levels for victims to tell their stories and raise public awareness.
• Empower victims to access and participate in the truth, justice and reconciliation process.
• Provide support to victims to access justice and remedies in a language they understand, including in local languages of the country of origin.
• Promote access to information through restorative justice in setting up agreed upon truth and reconciliation commissions. Learn from traditional justice, which is restorative and collective and adapt to local conditions with participation of all stakeholders.
• Ensure support to victims regardless of their affiliations.
• Ensure that the creation and sustainability of investigative mechanisms are less dependent on member states’ political interests.
• Create archives to preserve information and evidence.
• Eliminate obstacles in civil claims related to human rights violations and international crimes, including with regard to statutes of limitation, State immunity, etc.
• Support victims’ organizations and advocates, and include human rights activists in proceedings.
Civil society should:
• Advocate in the multilateral context for international crimes to be discussed in order for concerted pressure to be exercised on States beyond the confines of Realpolitik.
• Raise awareness amongst States of the need for compensation to victims beyond criminal justice.
• Invest a considerable percentage of transitional justice efforts geared towards funding victims’ organizations and providing these victims with direct assistance.
All national, international and regional mechanisms should:
• Ensure a victim-centered approach to investigating and prosecuting international crimes, and focus on redress and reparations, including through assistance.
• Work towards the establishment of an international observatory that would focus on prevention, accountability and combatting impunity notably through advice, support to intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
• Explore the possibility of establishing a working group to collect good practices and submit an assessment on existing national, regional and international mechanisms to combat impunity and ensure accountability.
• Uphold that the victim’s rights to remedies places emphasis on the agency of victims, including by:
a. giving victims access to information as to their rights and available mechanisms,
b. establishing the needs of victims through consultation,
c. seeking consent of the victims at different stages,
d. ensuring victim participation in accountability mechanisms,
e. assuring the protection and safety of victims, and
f. compensating victims or their families.
• Ensure that women and minority groups participate in public consultations aimed at developing, implementing and assessing reparations programmes.
• Instead of the term “victims”, use alternative terms such as “survivors”, which empower them and give them a voice.
• Ensure that the approach to reparations is multidisciplinary and has a multigenerational dimension that recognizes transgenerational victims.
• Compensation should be effective, easily accessible and proportional.
• Enhance and strengthen the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, in order to create an open forum for victims to express their views.
• Identify victims of core international crimes and the harm they have suffered with a view of offering assistance, moral and material reparation, irrespective of criminal proceedings.