Reacting to the agreement on a treaty on international legal cooperation in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes following negotiations between states in Slovenia, Law and Policy Advisor at Amnesty International Fisseha Tekle, said:
“The adoption of this new convention on international cooperation is a historic step towards delivering justice to victims of crimes under international law. In a world with ever more visible atrocities, and where huge numbers of victims are often left without any remedy, the convention opens more routes to justice.
The adoption of this new convention is a historic step towards delivering justice to victims of crimes under international law.Fisseha Tekle, Law and Policy Advisor, Amnesty International
“Rules on the recognition, role and rights of victims were expanded; there is an increased emphasis on the duty to provide fair treatment to the accused throughout; statutes of limitations for these crimes have largely been outlawed; and language on gender was improved. Importantly, the principal duty of states to prosecute or extradite suspects of crimes under international law was enshrined and expanded to cover certain crimes in non-international armed conflicts.
“However, it is of great concern that last-minute efforts by a few states succeeded in carving out an exemption and securing discretion on whether to investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators present on their territory, when this should be a universal duty. But the determination of most states involved in the negotiations to minimize ‘safe havens’ for those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and to fulfil the victims’ right to remedy, ensured that this exemption was limited.
“The core principles of the treaty were preserved, and it should significantly reduce the impunity of perpetrators. Overall, a historic opportunity to strengthen international legal cooperation has been seized, and we now urge states to promptly sign the treaty and ratify it without reservations.”
The new Ljubljana-Hague Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes and other International Crimes, sometimes referred to as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLA), sets out the obligations on states regarding legal cooperation and extradition in the investigation of crimes under international law. It was formally adopted by consensus today following two weeks of negotiations in Ljubljana, involving delegations from more than 70 states, international organizations and civil society.
The treaty fills a gap in international law and justice by clarifying and cementing the duties and obligations of states to assist each other in cases involving international crimes. It provides a ‘toolbox’ in the fight against impunity for the crimes and bolsters the role of national judicial systems in pursuing such cases.