Guidelines for Social Workers and Care Providers in Germany: Refugees as Potential Witnesses of International Crimes – Updated Version now Available


On 5 November 2019, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy together with the City of Nuremberg, presented the updated version of the guidelines dealing with refugees as potential witnesses of international crimes. Thorsten Bach, from the City of Nuremberg, highlighted key points and updates addressing an audience of approximately 50 social workers and related experts from the region specializing in refugee counselling at their biannual meeting in Nuremberg. The Nuremberg Academy was represented by Jolana Makraiová, Senior Officer for Interdisciplinary Research, and Kiran Mohandas Menon, Project Officer.

The guidelines were initially presented to social workers in Nuremberg in June 2017. They were developed after intensive fieldwork and a needs assessment workshop involving social workers as well as German and foreign international criminal law and refugee law experts, in particular. The current updated guidelines sourced primarily from the knowledge collected throughout the workshops and feedback received from social workers and experts.

Through a practical case study, the guidelines look at the role of refugees in the German legal system, explaining the concepts of universal jurisdiction and reporting duty. The document illustrates the potential bridging of information through various channels and highlights the importance of this bridging, especially when it could be highly relevant for advancing accountability for international crimes. The guidelines acknowledge the unique position that social workers and related staff members play vis-à-vis bridging this potentially pertinent information to the relevant authorities within the German legal system.

The document also includes definitions of international crimes under German law, the procedures related to their prosecution, the system in place, and the significance of social departments in the channeling and facilitating of useful or potentially useful information to relevant authorities.
The Nuremberg Academy as well as the City of Nuremberg welcome further feedback on the guidelines.

Both German and English versions are available for download here below.


Guidelines for Social Workers and Care Providers in Germany - Refugees as Potential Witnesses of International Crimes
Leitlinien für die Soziale Arbeit und Betreuung in Deutschland - Geflüchtete als potenzielle Zeuginnen und Zeugen von Völkerrechtsverbrechen