The Aegis Trust's work to ensure that international justice is effective includes:
1. Innovative work to support and explain the role of the International Criminal Court, particularly with regards to Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo
- The arrest warrants and supporting material can be dry and inaccessible. In order to make these more accessible we have made films about both the perpetrators and victims in Darfur, created the 'wanted for war crimes' campaign about Ali Kushayb and Ahmad Harun, created Facebook applications: War Crimes Wanted List, a Google Earth layer and Google Maps depicting the whereabouts of Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb and have conducted extensive media and political work in support of the court. We are a founding member of the Justice for Darfur campaign.
- These films have been seen extensively in Sudan, Egypt and other African countries, and by UN diplomats in New York. The material we've produced has been covered by the International Herald Tribune, the Economist, Le Monde, several Egyptian newspapers, BBC Newsnight, BBC News Online, CNN, the Guardian, Boston Globe and many others.
- We have recently launched the Lubanga Chronicles Project. This project, based in the DRC and The Hague, follows the International Criminal Court's first trial - the case of former Congolese rebel commander Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. The project will chronicle the case widely through daily reports and audio clips that will be broadcast on local DRC radio stations in affected communities.
2. Policy work and advocacy. Our report, on the enforcement of international criminal law, made the following recommendations:
- A new convention on Crimes Against Humanity to enable those states not wishing to join the ICC to incorporate Crimes Against Humanity into their statute books;
- Greater use of extra-territorial jurisdiction – including through establishing a new optional protocol to the Genocide Convention;
- A common fund to finance extra-territorial trials – such as that planned by Senegal for former Chadian dictator and alleged torturer Hissène Habré;
- Specialist war crimes units in national police forces and prosecuting authorities, to build up expertise in complex investigations;
- Concerted political efforts to enforce international criminal law when seeking to arrest the ‘big fish’ - which sometimes may require conditionality and targeted sanctions in order to effect the arrest and surrender of a suspect to the international criminal court.
3. Advocacy work to strengthen UK law on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Our work has led to:
- A change in British law on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity! As part of a year long campaign, Aegis has undertaken research and policy work; a media campaign; and a parliamentary campaign to highlight the issue of gaps in UK law on international crimes. In practice, these loopholes meant that there were impunity gaps in the current British law, which meant that people suspected of the most heinous crimes could be present in Britain without any prospect of trial or prosecution.
- There was widespread media coverage of the campaign. Aegis' recommendations to strengthen the law were taken up by Lord Carlile QC, Baroness D'Souza and Lord Falconer QC, who tabled amendments to the Justice and Coroners Bill. The Campaign also provoked the decision of the Joint Committee on Human Rights to launch an inquiry in UK legislation on genocide and related offences. On 7th July 2009, the Government announced that it would be expanding British law on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to cover any crime committed since 1991 (the previous date was 2001). This was a major victory for the campaign. We are now focusing on securing our second demand - that people who are present in the UK should be liable to prosecution (the current law states that a person must be resident).
4. Practical efforts to set up the 'Wanted for War Crimes' project:
- This is designed to create a network of NGOs, investigators, lawyers and other groups willing to share information and evidence about people suspected of war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity or genocide; helping to build prima-facie cases against a suspect so that national police and investigators can quickly obtain an arrest warrant or make an extradition request.