Responding to the needs of the international community, JRR is constantly developing new ways to investigate core international crimes and human rights violations. Since 2009, JRR has deployed experts on more than 100 missions, where and when they are needed most. Below are some of the areas in which JRR is able to provide highly specialized professionals to assist human rights documentation and criminal investigations.
Conflict-related Violations Involving Children
Exposing patterns of conflict-related crimes involving children can help to hold perpetrators accountable. To do so, however, requires proper training in order to accurately capture information, document evidence, and – most importantly – minimize harm and re-traumatization of children. It is critical that individuals and investigatory bodies receive comprehensive training that equips them for this work.
Recognizing the need for training in this area, Justice Rapid Response, the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Institute for International Criminal Investigations forged a new partnership, titled Monitoring and Investigating Conflict-related Violations Involving Children (MICVIC). It aims to ensure that international crimes involving children are addressed appropriately and systematically in the context of monitoring, fact-finding and investigative mechanisms. Our partnership strengthens the capacity of the international community to address crimes and serious human rights violations involving children, while always prioritizing their safety and well-being. The MICVIC programme envisions a world where all investigations into conflict-related violations are aware of and responsive to the differential impact of conflict on children’s lives. We know that the right response can ensure children transcend the conditions in which war has placed them.
JRR’s Complementarity Programme provides, flexible, rapid and cost-effective assistance to countries wishing to hold perpetrators accountable, but needing the support of professional expertise from the international community. JRR offers tailored mentoring assistance from its international roster of over 600 experts that enables countries to maintain local ownership of accountability, performed at an international standard. Individuals available for deployment include legal advisors, prosecutors, child and witness protection specialists, military analysts, and experts in conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.
Our approach empowers national actors to design and implement credible, thorough investigations. Mentoring received by national authorities builds confidence of these increasing the odds for justice to be done for crimes of the past. From evidence-gathering in the field to presenting it in the courtroom, JRR experts have ensured national authorities on the ground have the knowledge and tools they need.
Financial Investigation and Asset Recovery
In order for survivors of mass atrocities to have the best chance at reparations, the assets of perpetrators must be identified and recovered. Financial investigation and asset recovery techniques must therefore be integrated into the investigation of international crimes – as they are for most other crimes. Together with the Institute for International Criminal Investigations, JRR brought together relevant actors to ensure that the identification and recovery techniques used by the private sector are available to the rest of the international community. A special module on FIAR has been integrated in JRR’s general investigation training course.
Mentoring Humanitarian Responders
Humanitarian workers like medical providers, psycho-social professionals and more, are among the first to interact with survivors during and in the aftermath of conflict. The information they encounter is often valuable in eventually holding perpetrators accountable. Yet humanitarian workers are not, and not supposed to be international investigators. This is where we come in. JRR’s expert mentors specialize in sexual and gender-based violence, psychosocial support, forensic sciences, and child protection. They provide practice-based mentorship to recipient organizations working with populations displaced by conflict on how their work intersects with accountability processes.
Since the program’s inception in 2015, we have successfully launched 9 missions, deploying 21 experts. This programme focuses on the survivors of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Our mentoring is tailored to meet urgent needs on the ground, and is developed in full consultation with partner organizations. As a result of our work, humanitarian responders are better equipped to recognize and safeguard potential evidence, and minimize the danger to survivors who confided in them.
Sexual and Gender-based Violence
Rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) continue to be used as a weapon of war. Kidnappings of women and girls have come to constitute a deliberate tactic of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Mirroring the accounts of girls who escaped from Boko Haram, Yazidi women and girls who have escaped from ISIL in Northern Iraq and Syria have reported horrific sexual violence, including forced marriages to their capturers, and being traded as slaves among fighters. Conflict-related SGBV affects girls and women, but also men and boys, despite often little discussion on the latter.
The JRR-UN Women partnership and the creation of a dedicated SGBV Justice Experts roster has been instrumental in starting to address these issues effectively. It is the key to our partner UN Women’s ability to ensure that every UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) has had a gender adviser/ SGBV investigator on its team of experts. In 2015 the deployment of SGBV Justice Experts to the COI for Syria as well as Fact Finding Missions for Iraq, Boko Haram and Libya, also provided the international community with a better understanding of the use of SGBV by violent extremist groups. Knowledge and visibility of the JRR-UN Women partnership has increased, and the roster has been used to support an increasingly wide range of justice mechanisms. JRR and UN Women are committed to strengthening the ability of both national institutions and international bodies to investigate and prosecute such crimes.