PERREAULT Magazine October 2014 - Page 36

Perreault Magazine - 36 -

If it is not possible to modernize the international systems quickly enough, then we need innovative solutions to make good on our promise – or see the credibility of the system drop. We at JRR have found that with imagination, flexibility, much determination and old fashioned hard work, we are able to combine the strengths of the various international actors: States, UN agencies, civil society, and others to plug some of these “gaps”.

BP: So what is the most important “gap” that you are trying to fill with Justice Rapid Response?

AVG: Our basic premise is that without a proper investigation, there is no chance of justice being done –whether justice takes the form of prosecutions or other accountability processes such as truth and reconciliation commissions. It is not the only condition required for successfully holding perpetrators accountable but without a good case, without establishing the facts and preserving the evidence properly, there is no realistic chance for justice and deterrence.

If an investigation is not done by people who have the needed expertise and are specifically trained to carry it out under international law and international conditions; if there is no way to ensure that they can start the investigation as soon as possible, then chances are that the most relevant evidence will not be collected. Or it may be handled in a way that cannot be used in a court. Worse – leaving this “gap” unfilled has meant that possibly others who are not trained for it will try to do this work. No matter how well meaning, the results of these efforts for the survivors and witnesses of these horrendous crimes are often devastating. Not only through re-traumatisation, but also because under-skilled investigators are unlikely to know how to protect witnesses from reprisals. And in the case of victims of sexual violence – also from being ostracized by their own communities. So the downside of not getting the investigation “right” is huge – not only in what fails to be done right, but also in the harm it inevitably brings to the very people who need help the most.

BP: Is this happening? How can JRR improve on this?

AVG: It has happened, and it is still happening, especially as more and more of these atrocities are being committed every day. And yes, JRR has and can do quite a bit, by making sure that investigations are done right, and done rapidly.

Our rapid response is made possible by the way we are organized. JRR has an innovative flexible structure that allows every form of organization from States, international institutions, civil society, as well as others like universities and forensic institutes – from every part of the world to participate. This enables JRR to select the best criminal justice professionals by putting them through specialized training courses in international criminal investigations. We develop these courses with our exclusive training partner, the Institute for International Criminal Investigations – the only outfit in the world dedicated to this kind of training.

Our certification process is highly competitive and rigorous to make sure we have the experts with the necessary skills and expertise and who can operate well under stress and in very challenging circumstances.