Reaching out for justice

It is very easy in this age of Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, Fox News and a never ending news cycle to forget that there is still good in the world. We forget that International Law serves a greater purpose and is actually effective. The violence in Syria has been the main focus of the media for the past few years. However, little has been reported on the safety, shelter, and aid that has been provided to the refugees. Even less has been reported on the governments looking to hold the perpetrators of mass murders and tortures accountable. These outside governments, most notably Germany, France and the Netherlands, have created units that utilize universal jurisdiction. In Germany, prosecutors have started broad investigations aimed at countries in crises including Syria and Libya. These investigations called structural investigations focus on the crimes that have been committed during  mass unrest. The governments of Germany, France, and the Netherlands are proactive in their investigations by identifying refugees who might be witnesses.  Germany and a few other European countries collect testimony from asylum seekers on their testimony in order to use in later investigations and prosecutions. These investigations serve two purposes. First, crimes that are committed in these war torn countries are usually not prosecuted until years later. At the point when the investigations would usually start potential witnesses are scattered all over the world and most perpetrators have gone missing. By interviewing asylum seekers at the beginning these investigations are more likely to lead to prosecutions of crimes. Second, these interviews prevent countries from being safe havens for the perpetrators of heinous war crimes. Since many of these crisis countries are years away from having a functional government and even further away from prosecuting war criminal, universal jurisdiction is the best option. Universal jurisdiction is the bright line that international lawyers look to for justice. In all the bad news, there is a remedy and more countries should follow the example of Germany, France and the Netherlands.






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