The ICC Legal Tools Programme 2006-2012
The Centre signed a Co-operation Agreement with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2005 and became a lead partner in the development of the Courts’ Legal Tools Project. The main objective of the Project has been to provide users both inside and outside the Court equal access to legal information services required to construct legal arguments in cases containing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In August 2011 NCHR informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it did not intend to renew the Co-operation Agreement with the ICC beyond its expiration on 11th April 2012. By April 2012 the NCHR had completed its obligations according to the Co-operation Agreement and a natural consequence would be to hand over the less resource demanding tasks of maintaining the collections to other partners.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague
International criminal law is among the newest and fastest developing disciplines of law. Building on elements of human rights law, humanitarian law and national criminal law, it entails a complex yet innovative institutional and normative system. The increasing number of lawyers working on concrete cases has over the last decade experienced the multiple challenges involved in prosecuting, defending or adjudicating crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes. The cases are extremely fact rich, often with a large number of crimes committed over an extended time period by multiple offenders against a large number of victims. Collection of evidence relies upon the security situation in the affected area, and to some extent upon co-operation with local authorities. In addition to logistical challenges, legal practitioners needs to be updated on normative developments and have access to available legal sources from a wide variety of national and international institutions in order to produce proper submissions and decisions.
The Legal Tools Project has become a key component in providing free and easy access to legal information relevant to core international crimes, thus serving to level the playing field between international and national lawyers in the investigation, prosecution, defence, and adjudication of core international crimes.
The Legal Tools platform comprise three main categories of legal tools:
b) two legal digests (on Means of Proof and Elements of Crimes), and
c) the case management and legal reference tool Case Matrix.
The Legal Tools Database consists of 11 different collections of documents, including international legal instruments, judicial decisions from international and national courts and academic articles. Currently more than 57 000 documents have been collected, and together these constitute a unique collection of legal reference material in international criminal law.
While the Legal Tools Database is made available to the general public, the digests are available only to users of the Case Matrix application. The case management system is installed for free with users signing separate agreements in order to maintain control of the users for provision of feedback, software updating and helpdesk functions. The matrix includes a compendium of the most relevant legal texts and a case and evidence structuring function which assists in maintaining overview in complex and fact rich cases.