Expert meeting on "Private Investigations in International Criminal Justice"


On invitation of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law and the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, international experts met for an exchange of views on the topic "Private Investigations in International Criminal Justice" in Nuremberg, on 2 November 2018. The experts discussed the phenomenon of privately organized investigations in international criminal proceedings, especially in Syria and Iraq. Such investigations are currently the only means of securing evidence in relation to international core crimes such as war crimes and crimes against humanity in these countries, since for political reasons, both the establishment of a special tribunal for these countries or referral of the cases by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court in The Hague continue to find no approval by the major powers.

The experts, practitioners of international criminal law and academics, agreed that the activities of organizations under private law in the field of collecting information and evidence are indispensable. The use of private actors is not new - the case law of several European countries has dealt with this phenomenon in a positive way, in Germany, for example, in connection with the purchase of data CDs on tax offenses. However, according to the unanimous opinion of the experts, clear guidelines are needed in the future as to how such collections of evidence are to be carried out in order to ensure the necessary transparency and legal certainty, such as the consideration of defense rights, in every situation of the proceedings. Under the leadership of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, these guidelines are now to be drafted by the experts and made available to the practice as the "Nuremberg Guidelines for Private Investigations". Another meeting of experts in Nuremberg is planned for next year.