PERREAULT Magazine October 2014 - Page 38

Perreault Magazine - 38 -

We are very proud to have a partnership with UN Women, the part of the UN System charged with women’s’ welfare, to specifically target sexual and gender based violence crimes – like rape being used as a tool of war. Thus far, JRR has already sent experts to assist with investigations 41 times. One of these is that of the Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who has just had 17 of the 18 charges against him confirmed by the ICC – six of these being crimes of sexual violence.

Others of our investigators have participated in inquiries set up in the aftermath of conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Syria, investigations into the brutal dictatorship of North Korea, and the civil wars of Colombia and Guatemala. JRR experts were deployed in Haïti to help investigate a prison massacre, the result of which convicted eight police officials. Recently, JRR forensic teams went to Mali to identify and determine the cause of death of bodies found in two mass graves. Thanks to their work, the local judge was able to build up his case against a former military leader and a trial is soon to take place.

BP: I can see where your work makes a difference in individual cases. But Andras, your stated goal of bringing expectations of international investi-gations to the same level as under our domestic system is much, much bigger. Surely this is not all smooth sailing. What are the obstacles? How are you going to achieve making all such “very bad people nervous”?

Even one successful case can give a very powerful message that impunity for mass atrocities will no longer be tolerated and that victims matter.

This is an essential part of a country’s post conflict healing process. This matters more than you think. According to the World Bank World Development Report 2011, in the 21st century so far, 90% of all conflicts are re-occurring conflicts. These cycles of violence continue because what happens – including the mass crimes that are committed – is not adequately addressed. A recurring sense of injustice is one of the main motivations given by people for taking up arms. So when it comes to atrocities, even a single conviction, sometimes even a report that acknowledges what happened and assigns responsibilities, has been known to have a huge impact in breaking the cycle of violence.

But individual cases alone will not see the kind of breakthrough that we want to achieve as quickly as we want to achieve it. We also want to influence by example how international justice can be faster and more professional. By demonstrating that experts can be recruited and trained properly and made available quickly, we hope to shift the thinking about what is possible, including how much it all costs.

The prevailing view is that international justice is expensive (for example, the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals used to cost as much as a hundred million dollars a year each). Yet we at JRR have been able to demonstrate that getting the international investigations part right does not need to cost a lot – and you don’t need a huge bureaucracy to achieve it. JRR has a very small secretariat of just a few dedicated people, and with that we have been recruiting, training, managing a roster, sending experts to investigate cases on a shoestring budget. And what seems to be most time consuming - trying to raise that modest budget.