Libya and Iraq: Mass Graves and Missing Persons

This week our Rule of Law researcher Jill Coster van Voorhout gave two lectures on a rule of law-based approach to criminal procedures dealing with mass graves and missing persons in Libya and Iraq during training programs organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

Both events focused specifically on criminal proceedings and the use of evidence in court-led processes on mass graves and missing persons in the two countries.

Coster van Voorhout referred to the assumed universality of the rule of law because of its foundations in the Code of Hammourabi (about 1754 BC), the Magna Carta (1215 AC), Islamic law, Confucianism, and other authorities. She also made the common distinctions between rule of law versus rule of man and rule of law versus rule by law. The emphasis of her lecture was on the applicability of the rule of law to the entire investigation, from early efforts by criminal or private investigators to the trial and appeal stages. For example, mechanisms to ensure the collection of exculpatory material and to embedding these specific efforts into a wider rule of law culture in both countries, were elaborated upon.

Taking place in The Hague, the two seminars convened prosecutors, judges and forensic experts from domestic and international courts. The training highlighted the use of forensic science, as well as the use of such evidence in criminal or other legal proceedings.

These trainings also gave an opportunity to reconnect with participants from earlier trainings at the Institute. For example, in 2013 The Hague Institute trained Libyan judges and prosecutors on Rule of Law and Transitional Justice. That same year a delegation consisting of members of the Human Rights Committee of the parliament of Iraq visited the Institute. The Rule of Law program looks forward to continuing its activities in these areas of fact-finding and enhancing domestic criminal proceedings, as well as capacity-building.

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Archive foto from 2013 training for Libyan judges and prosecutors on Rule of Law and Transitional Justice organized by The Hague Institute

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