A specialist Interpol course gives war crimes investigators the opportunity to hone their skills in real-life scenarios.
The simulation exercise was part of five days training on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity investigations at Interpol headquarters in France earlier this month.
The course, the sixth organised by Interpol, provided 17 law enforcement officers from 14 countries with the fundamental skills needed to investigate these international crimes.
Experts in investigation of war crimes from the International Criminal Court (ICC) shared their expertise with participants, briefing them on legal elements of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict.
“We continue to see the lasting and destabilising effects genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity have on communities and nations. Effective investigations ensure war criminals are brought to justice. This is important in the international community’s fight against these crimes.” Stanislas Talontsi, an ICC lawyer, said.
The training improved participants’ knowledge of specialised investigative techniques such as forensics, interview skills, witness protection measures and recognition of armed groups and military equipment.
Participants left the classroom on the fourth day of the course to apply their knowledge to real-life scenarios.
Fake war crime scenes including a detention centre, execution area and mass grave were set up with the assistance of the French Forensic Police. Participants had to investigate them and collect evidence using techniques learnt during training.
“War crimes require specific and specialised investigation,” Ioannis Kokkinis, Assistant Director of Interpol’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit, said. “After learning from some of the world’s most experienced investigators, participants leave here with an improved ability to support war crimes investigations – not only for the good of their own country, but for the good of humanity.”
The course prepared officers for collaboration with peacekeeping forces that may be deployed in different countries as well as integration of national investigations with those undertaken by international courts and tribunals.
This week’s training and simulation exercise coincided with the publication of a UN report that said more than 200 mass graves containing thousands of bodies were found in parts of Iraq once controlled by ISIL. The sites, notes the report, could contain forensic evidence critical to identifying victims and helping prosecutors build cases for war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.
The training programme was run as part of Project BASIC (Broadening Analysis on Serious International Crimes) in which Interpol works with national authorities and international partners to locate and arrest fugitives wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.