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Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: criminal investigation and prosecution

In the early 1990s, the genocide in Rwanda shocked the entire world. More than 800 000 men, women and children were put to death in a very brief time between April and July 1994. The European Union is stepping up cooperation between its Member States to work effectively with the criminal investigation and prosecution of the actual or suspected perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

ACT

Council Decision 2003/335/JHA of 8 May 2003 on the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

SUMMARY

The European Union is stepping up cooperation between the Member States' law-enforcement and prosecution services to work effectively with the criminal investigation and prosecution of the actual or suspected perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and those who have been involved in them. The definition of these crimes is taken over from the Statute of the International Criminal Court

  • Genocide: acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such, including killing members of the group, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;
  • Crimes against humanity: acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, such as murder, extermination, deportation, torture and rape;
  • War crimes: grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 such as wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, destruction of property and taking of hostages.

The Member States are to take the necessary measures in order for the law enforcement authorities to be informed when facts are established which give rise to a suspicion that an applicant for a residence permit has committed such crimes. The authorities may then commence criminal proceedings in a Member State or in international criminal courts. Member States are to assist one another in investigating and prosecuting the crimes. They may set up or designate specialist units within the competent law enforcement authorities to that end.

Member States are to coordinate ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of having committed or participated in the commission of the relevant crimes. The contact points designated under Decision 2002/494/JHA are to meet at regular intervals with a view to exchanging information about experiences, practices and methods. These meetings may take place in conjunction with meetings within the European Judicial Network.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2003/335/JHA14.5.2003-OJ L 118 of 14.5.2003
Last updated: 07.11.2005

See also

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