We train local NGOs and lawyers on practices that will help their information be of more use in future trials or other transitional justice mechanisms. This training has been as complex as a full training course in international law, or as simple as developing mechanisms for NGOs to be able to re-contact witnesses for a future trial, while protecting their identity. Two of the situations we are involved in are described below.
In 2010 the Aegis Trust, in partnership with the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), successfully conducted a specialized training course on the enforcement of international criminal law and fair trial principles in Erbil.
The training course was developed by Aegis Senior Counsel Melissa Pack and Alain Werner to provide participants with a broad and deep understanding of what qualifies as international crimes, the procedural and evidence-based aspects of international criminal justice and fair trial standards, including - with the assistance of the War Crimes Studies Center, in Berkeley, California - guidelines for monitoring criminal trials.
The training incorporated a special focus on the work of the Iraqi High Tribunal, and featured a senior trial judge of the Tribunal and the Head Prosecutor of the Halabja case, who were invited to share with the trainees experiences and challenges they faced at the various stages of cases they handled.
The eight Iraqi criminal lawyers who benefited from the training viewed this as an excellent way to gain exposure to international humanitarian law and the judicial mechanisms for its enforcement. A female participant commented that, "this training gave us the opportunity to learn and hear of experiences from other tribunals on accountability for serious crimes."
Burma / Myanmar
The Aegis Trust supports the work of the Network for Human Rights Documentation (ND Burma) - a Burmese led network of 13 human rights NGOs who collaborate to share information and store evidence of abuses and violations.
As part of this work:
- we embed one member of staff within ND Burma, who works to improves the quality of evidence stored in the network's Martus database.
- we have completed two training sessions on the Thai / Burmese border - enabling participants to gain an understanding of international criminal law, and is applicability to the situation in Burma.
Future work will focus upon activities which assist in the building up of case files against individual perpetrators - with the aim of storing this information over the long term - for use in whichever transitional justice mechanism is deemed appropriate by the Burmese people.