Having followed closely the work of Justice Rapid Response (JRR) over the past four years, I am happy to say that JRR is well on its way to becoming the organization of reference for international criminal and human rights investigative expertise: a unique brand that is widely recognized and appreciated.
Since it became operational in 2009, JRR has contributed crucial expertise to mechanisms which have achieved milestones of criminal justice, such as the conviction of former President of Chad Hissène Habré in the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal, and the confirmation, by a unanimous panel of judges, of all charges related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as war crimes and crimes against humanity against Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court.
JRR has played an instrumental role in raising the standard of international investigations in general and, through its partnership with UN Women, in relation to SGBV. Ensuring that gender advisers and experts are part of the core team of investigators in Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-Finding Missions has been reflected in an increasingly high standard of gender analysis in the Commission of Inquiry and Fact-Finding Mission reports. Investigation of SGBV crimes is an important part of JRR’s work and one in which JRR’s expertise, professionalism and compliance with highest standards of duty of care are essential.
Virtually every new investigative mechanism set up in 2017 has turned to JRR for support. JRR experts have been deployed to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism on international crimes committed in the Syrian Arab Republic (IIIM), and have helped the first mission ever conducted by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to Ukraine. JRR’s experts were also called upon to assist the follow-on mechanism established by the UN Secretary-General to assist the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with its investigation into the killing of two UN investigators and four Congolese nationals in Kasai. JRR has also deployed tailored support to mechanisms documenting the plight of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. In 2017, JRR completed several deployments to the Human Rights Commission on South Sudan and Syria Commission of Inquiry.
The JRR Complementarity Programme is unique in that it provides tailored mentoring assistance. Last year, several States have asked JRR for specialized expertise for the first time, including the Central African Republic and The Gambia. National authorities in Mali and Guatemala have continued to rely on JRR’s support as they strengthen their own domestic efforts for truth and justice.
It is also notable that almost every State, international institution or organization that has made use of experts from the JRR roster, or the JRR-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts roster, has come back to JRR more than once, demonstrating JRR’s ability to rapidly deliver professional expertise, when and where it is needed the most. All these developments show that in 2017, after less than ten years of activities, JRR has become the “go-to” organization for support to sensitive international investigations.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all those–States, international institutions and organizations, private actors and individuals–who have relied on JRR and made its success possible.
Ambassador Marja Lehto
Chair, JRR Executive Board