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A Journey through the Many Faces of Accountability: In Conversation with the Legal Advisors at eyeWitness to Atrocities

Anna Gallina is a Legal Consultant at eyeWitness to Atrocities.

Julianne Romy formerly worked as a Legal Advisor at eyeWitness to Atrocities (2021-2023).

Valmira Gkioni is the Communications Coordinator at eyeWitness to Atrocities.

 

This article was written in August 2023 and therefore does not include subsequent events or reflect eyeWitness to Atrocities’ work undertaken following this date.



Valmira Gkioni: In the past 12 months, more than 160 countries worldwide have witnessed various forms of violence, according to ACLED’s Conflict Index assessment.[1] Some of these conflicts have recently erupted, while others have been ongoing for several years. In this age of the internet and smartphones, social media has become a crucial platform for sharing information and facilitating the distribution and communication of data about atrocities happening globally. Photos and videos depicting human rights violations circulate widely, to raise awareness and, ultimately, seek justice for victims and survivors.


The advent of the Arab Spring marked a pivotal moment, expanding the use of smartphones and social media as tools for documenting violence and organising civic engagement.[2] Faced with limited access to towns under attack, Syrian citizens and human rights activists began utilising their mobile phones to live-stream, record videos, and capture photos in an organised manner, showcasing the injustices occurring across the country.[3] Online platforms were inundated with footage of unrest, making the Syrian war one of the most extensively documented conflicts in history, amassing millions of photos and videos.[4]


Establishing the authenticity of digital content is crucial for it to be considered admissible as evidence. While mobile devices can capture metadata essential for verification, such as the date, time, or location of capture, both this information and the footage itself are susceptible to alteration. Additionally, major social media companies and messaging apps, including Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Signal, and WhatsApp, automatically remove metadata from footage for privacy reasons.[5] Consequently, images and videos depicting atrocities are often challenged in their admissibility as evidence in court.


The eyeWitness to Atrocities App was developed to address this challenge by safeguarding the integrity of footage and streamlining the verification process. The app employs advanced control capture technology, embedding unmodifiable metadata from the moment of capture to ensure the authenticity and provenance of the digital content so that it will be admissible for use in court. One of the app’s crucial features is the protection of the chain of custody, empowering human rights defenders and civil society organisations to capture, preserve, and utilise information on international crimes and human rights violations effectively for accountability purposes.


Nevertheless, no application or technological tool operates in isolation to attain justice. Recognising this, CJLPA has engaged in this discussion with eyeWitness’s legal advisors to comprehend thoroughly how the eyeWitness App has been and is presently employed in documenting war crimes and other atrocities. The aim is to gain insights into the essential steps required for footage to be admissible as evidence in court. To achieve this understanding, CJLPA concentrates on three specific contexts that have been central to eyeWitness’s efforts in recent years: Ukraine, Palestine, and Nigeria.

 

CJLPA: eyeWitness to Atrocities—what is it all about?


Julianne Romy: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ as the adage goes. True, except when it cannot be authenticated. 


In the early 2010s, the surge of social media platforms and the widespread adoption of smartphones ushered in a revolutionary shift in global interaction. Rapidly evolving into a potent tool for activists and ordinary citizens alike, these platforms facilitated the sharing of footage depicting human rights abuses and violations that might otherwise escape notice in traditional media. As such content proliferated on social media, investigators worldwide confronted a pressing question: could this footage withstand scrutiny in a court of law?


After four years of dedicated research, what began as an idea in the mind of Dr. Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association, materialised into a comprehensive, free mobile camera app. This app empowers users to capture verifiable footage of atrocity crimes, deemed admissible as evidence in investigations and trials. In 2015, eyeWitness to Atrocities was officially launched.


Uniquely crafted by legal professionals, the eyeWitness to Atrocities App stands as the sole system designed for human rights defenders to collect, verify, and safeguard digital evidence of atrocity crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In essence, the app leverages device sensors to embed metadata, authenticating the date, time, location, and integrity of the images and sound captured by users. The footage and accompanying metadata are secured in the app’s gallery until the user uploads them to a secure server, controlled by eyeWitness to Atrocities and hosted by LexisNexis. This meticulous process establishes a trusted chain of custody, verifying the time and place of capture, confirming that the footage has not been edited, and tracing the footage’s journey from its inception to its storage on the server.[6]


Anna Gallina: While the technology underpinning the App is sophisticated, its rationale is straightforward: the authenticity of footage captured with the App would be unquestionable to any judge, whether at the domestic, regional, or international level. No government across the globe could dispute that those human rights abuses and violations occurred on their territory. The power of the footage, devoid of any potential misinformation campaign, stands as an irrefutable testament to the truth, contributing significantly to the evidentiary puzzle crucial for securing a perpetrator’s conviction.


An organisation was established around the App, ensuring comprehensive support for users. Whether requiring assistance with investigation planning, technical support, or an intermediary to facilitate connections with accountability mechanisms or transfer information collected, the team stood ready to assist. As the organisation expanded, it assumed a more proactive role, emerging as advocates for the captured footage. This involved close collaboration with partners and the formation of coalitions with a diverse range of experts, including other human rights organisations specialising in specific areas, military analysts, and university clinics. The aim was not just to place the footage in the hands of investigators but also to persuade them to take on cases.

 

Now, nine years into eyeWitness’ existence, the daily reminder is clear: there is no universal approach to accountability. The myriad forms it can take depend on factors such as the context of the crimes, political climate, public pressure, and, naturally, the availability of mechanisms.

 

CJLPA: In the past 18 months, Ukraine has become one of history’s most documented wars. Did this conflict have an impact on international criminal justice? And how has the work of eyeWitness been affected?


AG: On 24 February 2022, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine seized the world’s attention, prompting swift international response. Within a week, the International Criminal Court (ICC), backed by unprecedented support from member States, initiated an investigation.[7] Simultaneously, the United Nations Human Rights Council established an Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine (UN CoI on Ukraine),[8] and Ukraine, with the backing of 45 participating States, invoked the Moscow Mechanism of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to establish an expert mission.[9] 


Subsequently, a Joint Investigation Team was formed among Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine, with Eurojust’s support,[10] later expanding to include four additional national judicial authorities and the participation of the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC.[11] Discussions also commenced on the potential establishment of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The wheels of justice were in motion, and it appears that the upcoming decade of international criminal justice will significantly revolve around the war in Ukraine.


Simultaneously, domestic-level investigations swiftly commenced, with the Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) of Ukraine registering over 105,000 instances of alleged war crimes between February 2022 and September 2023.[12] What sets Ukraine apart is the unique collaboration of various mechanisms and organisations pooling their efforts to collect and analyse information for accountability. Notably, there is a concerted effort to preserve evidence of crimes as the rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure progresses.


In a departure from practices in other regions, the OPG of Ukraine actively encouraged ordinary citizens to document crimes and submit evidence to a newly established database. Eventually, the OPG endorsed the use of the eyeWitness to Atrocities App and formalised cooperation by signing an agreement with the International Bar Association, granting the OPG access to footage captured with the App.[13] 

 

This marked a significant milestone for eyeWitness to Atrocities. Although the App had been in use in Ukraine since 2017,[14] Russia’s full-scale invasion led to a dramatic surge in the volume of footage received by eyeWitness. In a matter of weeks, the App saw downloads from civilians, civil society organisations, law firms, and commercial entities. In less than eighteen months, users of the App contributed over 42,000 photographs, video recordings, and audio files from Ukraine to our server, tripling the cumulative footage received since the App’s inception in 2015. The scale of damage and destruction across Ukraine became evident, leading to unprecedented demands from accountability mechanisms for footage captured with the App.

 

CJLPA: In the more than 40,000 photographs, video recordings, and audio files you received from Ukraine, what stood out as alarming? 


JR: We promptly observed that a majority of the captured footage originated from densely populated areas, often in close proximity to critical civilian infrastructure, such as healthcare facilities. According to international humanitarian law, medical personnel, units, and vehicles are entitled to specific, enhanced protection, mandating that they are protected by all parties involved in an armed conflict. While attacks on healthcare have been pervasive in armed conflicts worldwide, resulting in severe short- and long-term consequences for populations, they are seldom prosecuted.


Armed with this preliminary mapping, we reached out to Physicians for Human Rights, an organisation dedicated to documenting and pursuing accountability for human rights violations and other international crimes, with a particular emphasis on healthcare. Now, eighteen months since the commencement of the full-scale invasion, we have forged partnerships with four additional civil society organisations—Insecurity Insight, the Media Initiative for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Ukrainian Healthcare Center—each contributing unique expertise. Together, our collaborative efforts aim to raise awareness about attacks on healthcare facilities and workers in Ukraine.


By leveraging a combination of information derived from open-source channels and confidential sources, which encompass witness and victim testimonies, along with footage captured through the App, we have compiled and submitted the outcomes of our collective efforts to established mechanisms at both domestic and international levels.[15] Our endeavours have culminated in the publication of a comprehensive report,[16] the launch of an interactive map that is regularly updated to document attacks,[17] and a sustained advocacy campaign to prioritise accountability for assaults on healthcare.


Additionally, we extended our mapping efforts to encompass the damage and destruction of various other civilian infrastructures, such as housing, food-related and agricultural facilities, energy-related installations, schools, religious sites, and other cultural heritage buildings. Throughout this process, we cultivated collaborations with specialised organisations, benefitting from their expertise in open-source research and military analysis. Notably, certain preliminary findings have been incorporated into a submission to the UN CoI on Ukraine, focusing specifically on the city and its environs of Chernihiv in north-eastern Ukraine.[18]

 

CJLPA: Let’s talk about other contexts where eyeWitness has been active in the past few years. What are some of the challenges you have encountered?


AG: One of the many barriers that survivors of atrocities need to face is the relatively few avenues that are available for justice. Even when such avenues exist, at least at the international level, there are contexts in which mechanisms struggle to have access to the countries where the violations are taking place. A striking example in this sense is Palestine. There are currently multiple international bodies focussing exclusively on what is taking place in the country, such as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (Special Rapporteur on the oPt) and the most recent United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, set up in 2021 to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of international human rights law.[19]


Judicial mechanisms are also involved in examining the situation in Palestine, with the International Criminal Court conducting an ongoing investigation[20] and the International Court of Justice being recently petitioned to provide an advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.[21] However, the complexities of the geopolitical landscape contribute to the obstacles survivors face in accessing justice.


For these mechanisms to effectively carry out their mandate, a crucial factor is their ability to access the country, a privilege almost consistently denied to them. To illustrate, despite receiving an invitation from the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva, the Special Rapporteur on the oPt was unable to visit the country before her latest country report.[22] Similarly, the Commission of Inquiry also mentioned the ‘lack of cooperation on the part of Israel, along with its refusal to allow entry into Israel and to permit access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, despite the desire of the State of Palestine to allow the Commission to visit’.[23]


In such situations, documentation by human rights defenders, civil society organisations, journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens becomes even more crucial. They are the sole entities with immediate access to the crime scene, victims, and witnesses. Our role as legal advisors transforms in these instances: we must ensure that these individuals and organisations receive support and protection, and that the valuable information they gather reaches the attention of actors capable of advocating for change at the international level.

 

CJLPA: What is one of the most alarming issues we are witnessing in Palestine?


AGIn the context of Palestine, a pressing concern revolves around the widespread demolition of Palestinian residential buildings, livelihood-related structures, and critical infrastructure—a longstanding feature of Israel’s actions throughout the country. Of particular note is the alarming targeting of schools. The most recent instance at the time of writing was the demolition of an elementary school in the village of Ein Samiya on 17 August 2023, just days before the new school year. Approximately 58 schools across the West Bank now face the imminent threat of demolition.[24] 


Special Rapporteurs assert that these systematic practices, tied to the appropriation of occupied land, the transfer of part of the Israeli population into such areas, and the ensuing forcible transfer of Palestinians, amount to ‘domicide’.[25] These actions impact a broad spectrum of human rights, including the right to adequate housing, privacy, family, and home, as well as the peaceful enjoyment of possessions. They also infringe upon the rights to life and security of persons, health, water, livelihood, non-discrimination, education, and the overall enjoyment of human rights by Palestinians, including children.[26] Under specific conditions, these practices may constitute violations of international humanitarian and criminal law.


While the aforementioned practices have been widely reported on by soft-law mechanisms and may also potentially be amongst the crimes investigated by the International Criminal Court,[27] mechanisms—due to their mandates or jurisdiction—tend to focus on state responsibility or individual criminal liability, at the risk of leaving one of the major actors involved untouched: corporations.


CJLPA: Holding corporations accountable is a challenging task. How can this be done? 


AG: Business enterprises are not exempt from human rights standards. Even in cases where States fall short of their obligations, companies are obligated to uphold human rights. This responsibility includes refraining from violating the rights of others and actively addressing any adverse impacts they may generate. Although guidelines such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights[28] and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines)[29] clearly outline these expectations, there have been few court cases involving corporations implicated in human rights abuses and other crimes worldwide, including in Palestine.


In February 2020, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report, identifying 112 ‘business enterprises involved in certain specified activities related to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ that raise particular human rights concerns, such as the supply of equipment and materials facilitating the construction and expansion of settlements, the wall, and associated infrastructures and the supply of equipment for the demolition of housing and property, and the destruction of agricultural farms, greenhouses, olive groves, and crops.[30] Amongst these companies was J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited (JCB), a UK-based private limited company whose main activity is the design, manufacturing, and sale of a wide range of excavating, earthmoving, materials handling, and agricultural machines. 


Around the same time, we noticed that we were receiving an increasing amount of footage through the App showing the aftermath of demolitions. We also soon realised that construction machinery was often present on the site of demolitions or settlement-related construction. Along with a roster of pro bono lawyers bound by confidentiality agreements, we analysed the footage and filed a written submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.[31] A selection of photos and videos, portraying incidents where JCB loaders and excavators were visible on the scene, was shared with the UK-based charity Lawyers for Palestinians Human Rights (LPHR). Soon thereafter, LPHR filed a complaint against the company with the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP) for the OECD Guidelines.[32] The complaint, partially based on the powerful photographic and video evidence captured in Palestine with the App, argued that JCB’s products and construction machinery were used in the demolition of Palestinian properties and settlement-related construction, thereby breaching five provisions of the human rights chapter of the OECD Guidelines.[33]


The UK NCP accepted some of the arguments raised by LPHR and concluded that JCB had failed to observe the OECD Guidelines by not having a policy commitment to respect human rights and not carrying out human rights due diligence in its supply chain.[34] Since this final statement, JCB has adopted a new human rights policy, now available on its website.[35] Whilst the provisions included therein seem to limit JCB’s obligations to identify and address human rights violations that may arise from the (mis)use of its products, the adoption alone of such a document signals a step in the right direction.


The resolution of the OECD complaint against JCB underscores the significance of exploring unconventional avenues for accountability. As legal advisors, it is our responsibility to identify alternative paths, as they can be instrumental in promoting substantive human rights protection and holding private companies accountable for failure to prevent violations.


CJLPA: How do you handle situations where accountability avenues are limited or non-existent?


JR: There are contexts in which human rights abuses and violations are committed in areas so remote that they ‘fall through the cracks’ of the judicial system, either for lack of awareness of the situation or as a result of the authorities’ inability or unwillingness to prosecute alleged perpetrators. In these contexts, our role as legal advisors revolves around working with our partners to advocate for the creation of mechanisms that will adequately investigate crimes, prosecute alleged perpetrators, and provide redress to the victims. 


In Nigeria, for instance, several of our partners use the App to document attacks allegedly carried out by organised and well-armed Fulani ethnic militias against farming communities across the Middle Belt region. Between 2019 and 2023, they captured close to 6,000 photographs and video recordings portraying the immediate aftermath of attacks in remote areas of the region that resulted in the killing of civilians—including children, women, and the elderly—as well as the destruction of houses, food reserves, and other civilian infrastructure.


Despite the situation being coined as ‘Nigeria’s gravest security challenge’ by a United Nations Special Rapporteur in 2019,[36] attacks rarely make the news, with the few journalists who cover them facing arrest and detention.[37] When reported on, attacks are often imputed to ‘bandits’ and ‘gunmen’ or generically attributed to ‘the Fulanis’, dangerously conflating Fulani civilians who are also victims of attacks with a violent minority among the Fulani ethnic community that has organised in militias.


Unsurprisingly, most attacks go unpunished. In Nigeria, only a handful of attacks have led to formal investigations, the findings of which remain inaccessible to the public, with no prosecutions in sight. As an illustration only, none of the more than 70 attacks documented with the App in the States of Adamawa, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Ondo, and Plateau appears to have led to prosecutions, even where alleged individual perpetrators were identified by victims.[38] The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions similarly noted that whilst official figures reported investigations, prosecutions, and convictions in relation to 90 attacks in the State of Benue between 2017 and 2019, ‘it is striking that no one interviewed [by the Special Rapporteur] had been part of any formal investigation or prosecution process or had access to remedies or reparations for their loss of income’.[39] The ECOWAS Court of Justice—the judicial body of the Economic Community of West African States with jurisdiction to determine cases of violation of human rights that occur in any of its member states, including Nigeria—reached the same determination in relation to the alleged mass killings of the Agatu communities in Benue State that occurred in 2016, ordering Nigeria to investigate the crimes, identify and prosecute perpetrators, and provide redress to the victims.[40] 

 

CJLPA: Have there been any accountability initiatives at the international level?


JR: At the international level, whilst the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC-OTP) opened a preliminary examination into the Situation in Nigeria between 2010 and 2020, prosecutions in relation to so called ‘inter-communal clashes’ in the Middle Belt region are unlikely to proceed. From 2013 onwards, the ICC-OTP appears to have focused its investigations on the conflict between Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram only,[41] due to the lack of information as to alleged perpetrators, their degree of organisation, and their involvement in attacks in the Middle Belt region.[42]


Victims find themselves without alternative avenues to have their cases addressed. The absence of thorough investigations and prosecutions not only widens an impunity gap, denying victims proper redress but also fosters an environment of insecurity where retaliatory attacks are commonplace. In this challenging scenario, soft-law mechanisms emerge as the sole remaining recourse for victims. By elevating awareness within the highest echelons of the United Nations, there is a hope that, at some point, a Human Rights Council-mandated investigative body may be established. Such a body could systematically collect, and safeguard evidence of crimes committed in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria, mirroring efforts undertaken in response to violations in Ethiopia, Iran, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Venezuela in recent years.


This specific option has been the focal point of our concerted efforts, working in collaboration with partners in Nigeria.

 

CJLPA: How did you process all the photographs and videos captured with the App?


JR: Along with the roster of pro bono lawyers, we reviewed all the footage uploaded to our server, cataloguing, tagging, and objectively describing the material received so that the footage could be searched and further analysed. As part of this work, we looked for any insignias, graffiti, or other written material on the photographs and videos as well as any remnants of ammunitions, listened to and transcribed any audio recordings received as a file or as part of a video recording, and translated the information into English if necessary. 


Subsequently, we systematically categorised the footage based on specific themes, including deaths and injuries, internal or forced displacement, destruction of residential properties, damage to crops and agricultural infrastructure, and a category encompassing ‘other damage or destruction’, which included religious, healthcare, and educational facilities. We then organised this data according to location and the date of capture. In many instances, documenters supplemented their footage with user notes, offering essential details such as the date, time, and location of alleged attacks, information about victims and alleged perpetrators, and additional contextual information.


This user-provided information served as a foundation for our open-source research, undertaken to corroborate and contextualise the data. We delved into identifying the manufacturers of ammunition, as well as alleged direct perpetrators and accomplices. Through this groundwork, we discerned recurring patterns across the Middle Belt region, particularly in the neighbouring states of Kaduna and Plateau. This included insights into the locations of attacks, the types of weapons reportedly used, similarities in modus operandi among perpetrators, and the responses to attacks by security forces and government officials.


Then came the strategy. We mapped all potential mechanisms for advocacy and/or accountability, however unlikely they were to act, including their mandates, procedures, deadlines, past action, or interest in similar situations or thematics, and so on. On this basis, we selected several soft law mechanisms and filed written submissions, including to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions,[43] the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing,[44] and the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.[45] 


Whilst none of these bodies require the submission of information in a format that could meet the admissibility standards of a court of law, information based on footage captured with the App becomes more credible because the footage itself is verifiable.


CJLPA: So, what’s next?


AG: We know that justice and accountability take a long time. Investigations into complex human rights violations and atrocity crimes take years, with major challenges surrounding the arrest, detention, and prosecution of alleged perpetrators. For instance, footage captured with the App in 2017 contributed to the conviction of two military commanders for crimes committed five years earlier in two villages located in South Kivu of the Democratic Republic of Congo. There, in May 2012, militias had attacked the villages, burnt them to the ground, and killed 48 villagers, with many others injured. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, a local organisation had captured footage with standard cameras, but this footage did not contain metadata allowing the location, date, and time of capture to be verified. Five years later, a coalition of international and local civil society organisations, including the legal representatives for victims, partnered with eyeWitness to Atrocities to corroborate some of these photos. New footage was taken with the App, portraying individual and mass graves as well as the injuries of surviving victims. In 2018, a military tribunal in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, relied upon this footage, amongst other evidence, to convict the militia commanders for murder and torture as crimes against humanity and pillage and arson under domestic law.


In Ukraine, Palestine, and Nigeria, footage captured with the App today can result in prosecutions and convictions tomorrow.

 

[1] ‘ACLED Conflict Index—Ranking violent conflict levels across the world’ (ACLED Data, July 2023) <https://acleddata.com/acled-conflict-index-mid-year-update/#overview> accessed 10 March 2024. Note that the ACLED Conflict Index adopts a wide understanding of the concept of ‘conflict’ and includes civil wars, insurgencies, cartel competition, and social violence.

[2] Heather Brown, Emily Guskin, and Amy Mitchell, ‘The Role of Social Media in the Arab Uprisings’ (Pew Research Centre, 28 November 2012) <https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2012/11/28/role-social-media-arab-uprisings/> accessed 10 March 2024.

[3] Abdul Raziq, ‘Syrian Citizen Journalists Risk All to Bring Stories from the Frontlines’ (Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch, 28 May 2012) <https://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/05/11507/syrian-citizen-journalists-risk-all-bring-stories-frontlines> accessed 10 March 2024.

[4] Sema Nassar and Iavor Rangelov, ‘Documentation of Human Rights Violations and Transitional Justice in Syria: Gaps and Ways to Address Them’ (London School of Economics and Political Science, 2020) 4 <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/106206/2/Documenting_HR_and_TJ_in_Syria_updated_Nov2020.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024. See the Syrian Archive at <https://syrianarchive.org/en/data-archive>.

[5] Steven Woodhall, ‘Which Social Media Networks Remove EXIF Data?’ (17 January 2021) <https://stevenwoodhall.com/which-social-media-networks-remove-exif-data/> accessed 10 March 2024.

[6] For more information about the App and resources, see <https://www.eyewitness.global/>.

[7] Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Karim AA Khan QC, on the Situation in Ukraine: Receipt of Referrals from 39 States Parties and the Opening of an Investigation (International Criminal Court, 2 March 2022) <https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/statement-icc-prosecutor-karim-aa-khan-qc-situation-ukraine-receipt-referrals-39-states> accessed 10 March 2024.

[8] Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 4 March 2022—Situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression, A/HRC/RES/49/1 (United Nations Human Rights Council, 7 March 2022), para. 11 <https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/A_HRC_RES_49_1.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[9] Ukraine appoints mission of experts following invocation of the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 15 March 2022) <https://www.osce.org/odihr/513973> accessed 10 March 2024.

[10] Eurojust supports a joint investigation team into alleged core international crimes in Ukraine (European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, 28 March 2023) <https://www.eurojust.europa.eu/news /eurojust-supports-joint-investigation-team-alleged-core-international-crimes-ukraine> accessed 10 March 2024.

[11] ICC participates in joint investigation team supported by Eurojust on alleged core international crimes in Ukraine (European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, 25 April 2022) <https://www.eurojust.europa.eu/news/icc-participates-joint-investigation-team-supported-eurojust-alleged-core-international-crimes> accessed 10 March 2024. See also ‘Joint investigation team into alleged core international crimes in Ukraine: one year of international collaboration’ (European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, 24 March 2023) <https://www.eurojust.europa.eu/news/joint-investigation-team-alleged-core-international-crimes-ukraine-one-year-international> accessed 10 March 2024.

[12] Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, ‘Statistics’<https://www.gp.gov.ua/>

[13] Andriy Kostin, ‘Prosecutor General of Ukraine, endorses eyeWitness to Atrocities app’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, 27 October 2022) <https://www.eyewitness.global/prosecutor-general-of-ukraine-endorses-eyewitness> accessed 10 March 2024.

[14] For our work on Ukraine prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion, see for instance, ‘Using verifiable footage to fight for adequate housing in Ukraine’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, 15 March 2021) <https://www.eyewitness.global/using-verifiable-footage-to-fight-for-adequate-housing-in-ukraine> accessed 10 March 2024; ‘Behind the scenes: photographing alleged war crimes in Ukraine’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, 7 December 2021) <https://www.eyewitness.global/Behind-the-scenes-photographing-alleged-war-crimes-in-Ukraine> accessed 10 March 2024.

[15] See, for example, Ukrainian Healthcare Center, Physicians for Human Rights, eyeWitness to Atrocities, and Insecurity Insight, ‘Attacks on Hospitals and Healthcare in Ukraine—Joint Submission to the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine’ (September 2022) <https://phr.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/UN_CoI_Ukraine_submission_Attacks-on-Health.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024; Insecurity Insight, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and Ukrainian Healthcare Centre, ‘Submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation’ (4 April 2023) <https://phr.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/UN-UPR-SUBMISSION-RUSSIAN-FEDERATION-2023.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[16] Insecurity Insight, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and Ukrainian Healthcare Centre, ‘Destruction and Devastation: One Year of Russia’s Assault on Ukraine’s Health Care System’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, February 2023) <https://www.eyewitness.global/documents/Destruction-and-Devastation-Ukraine-Feb2023.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[17] eyeWitness to Atrocities, Insecurity Insight, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and Ukrainian Healthcare Centre, ‘Attacks on Health Care in Ukraine’ <https://www.attacksonhealthukraine.org/> accessed 10 March 2024.

[18] ‘eyeWitness submitted evidence of human rights violations committed in Chernihiv to UN Commission of Inquiry’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, 20 October 2022) <https://www.eyewitness.global/eyewitness-submitted-evidence-of-human-rights-violations-committed-in-Chernihiv-to-UN> accessed 10 March 2024.

[19] For more information, see, ‘Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 27 May 2021—Ensuring respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, A/HRC/RES/S-30/1’ (United Nations Human Rights Council, 28 May 2021) <https://www.un.org/unispal/document/ensuring-respect-for-international-human-rights-law-and-international-humanitarian-law-in-opt-and-israel-human-rights-council-30th-special-session-resolution-a-hrc-res-s-30-1/> accessed 10 March 2024.

[20] ‘Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, respecting an investigation of the Situation in Palestine’ (International Criminal Court, 3 March 2021) <https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/statement-icc-prosecutor-fatou-bensouda-respecting-investigation-situation-palestine> accessed 10 March 2024.

[21] United Nations General Assembly, ‘Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 30 December 2022—Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem A/RES/77/247’ (9 January 2023) 18 <https://www.un.org/unispal/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/A.RES_.77.247_301222.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[22] Francesca Albanese, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 A/77/356’ (United Nations General Assembly, Note by the Secretary-General, 21 September 2022) 2 <https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/country-reports/a77356-situation-human-rights-palestinian-territories-occupied-1967> accessed 10 March 2024.

[23] Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, Note by the Secretary-General, A/77/328’ (United Nations General Assembly, 14 September 2022) 5 <https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/hrbodies/hrcouncil/coiopt/2022-10-19/Report-COI-OPT-14Sept2022-EN.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[24] ‘Elementary School of Ein Samiya Demolished’ (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 17 August 2023) <https://www.ochaopt.org/content/elementary-school-ein-samiya-demolished> accessed 10 March 2024.

[25] ‘UN experts say Israel should be held accountable for acts of ‘domicide’’ (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 13 February 2023) <https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/02/un-experts-say-israel-should-be-held-accountable-acts-domicide> accessed 10 March 2024.

[26] See for instance, ‘JCB Off Track—Evading responsibility for human rights violations committed with JCB machines in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Amnesty International, November 2021) 11 <https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/2021-11/JCB%20Off%20Track%20Amnesty%20International%20report.pdf?VersionId=fwDUNXTOtdWIMZWknSwAa9xTg7ZtUNjp> accessed 10 March 2024.

[27] See Office of the Prosecutor, ‘Situation in Palestine—Summary of Preliminary Examination Findings’ (International Criminal Court, 3 March 2021) <https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/itemsDocuments/210303-office-of-the-prosecutor-palestine-summary-findings-eng.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024. Specifically see para. 4 including a reference to the transfer of Israeli civilians into the West Bank and para. 9 specifying that the crimes identified in the summary of findings are illustrative only and that ‘the Prosecutor’s investigation will not be limited only to the specific crimes that informed the assessment at the preliminary examination stage’.

[28] Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework’ (1 January 2012) <https://www.ohchr.org/en/publications/reference-publications/guiding-principles-business-and-human-rights> accessed 10 March 2024.

[29] ‘OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises’ (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011) <https://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/48004323.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024. The OECD Guidelines are recommendations addressed by governments to companies and provide a list of principles and standards of good practice consistent with applicable laws and international standards, including a chapter on human rights which was updated in 2011 to reflect core responsibilities in the UN Guiding Principles. Each state adhering to the OECD Guidelines is required to establish a National Contact Point, tasked with resolving complaints against companies for alleged breaches of the guidelines. The process is non-judicial and may result in mediation or a statement determining whether the company is in breach of the guidelines.

[30] United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘A/HRC/43/71: Database of all business enterprises involved in the activities detailed in paragraph 96 of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem’ (28 February 2020) 6 (a) and (c) <https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/reports/ahrc4371-database-all-business-enterprises-involved-activities-detailed-paragraph> accessed 10 March 2024.

[31] This submission was confidential and there is no public version available.

[32] ‘Complaint regarding the involvement of JCB in human rights breaches in the occupied Palestinian territory, raised by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights’ (Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, 10 December 2019) <https://lphr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Complaint-regarding-the-involvement-of-JCB-in-human-rights-breaches-in-the-occupied-Palestinian-territory-raised-by-LPHR-FINAL.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[33] ibid.

[34] ‘Final statement: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights complaint to the UK NCP about JC Bamford Excavators Limited’ (26 October 2021) <https://lphr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/LPHR-JCB-Final-Finalised-statement-Oct-2021.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[35] Max Jeffery, ‘JCB Human Rights Policy’ <https://www.jcb.com/dfsmedia/261086efe15a46f5afb95d093ef038ea/56513-source> accessed 10 March 2024.

[36] Agnès Callamard, ‘Visit to Nigeria. Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, A/HRC/47/33/Add.2’ (United Nations Human Rights Council, 11 June 2021) 50 <https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3933167?ln=en> accessed 10 March 2024.

[37] Christian Solidarity International, Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, and the International Organisation for Peacebuilding and Social Justice, ‘Breaking Point In Central Nigeria? Terror And Mass Displacement In The Middle Belt’ (Christian Solidarity International, March 2022) 21-22 <https://www.nigeria-report.org/2022/03/24/new-report-terror-and-mass-displacement-in-nigeria-s-middle-belt/> accessed 10 March 2024; Anugrah Kumar, ‘Christian journalist arrested after reporting on violence in Nigeria has case delayed again’ (Christian Post, 12 September 2022) <https://www.christianpost.com/news/nigerian-christian-journalists-case-delayed-again.html> accessed 10 March 2024.

[38] In this sense, former Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard noted for instance that two years after the killing of 29 persons in Nkiendoro, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, ‘none of the survivors had been asked to provide testimonies or to attend trial, if trials did indeed occur’. See United Nations Human Rights Council (n 37) 56. In a separate instance, a Judicial Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate a 2019 Kaduna State massacre. While the Commission issued a report to Kaduna State Governor in September 2020, its findings are yet to be made public and no further action has been taken at the State or Federal levels to investigate and prosecute those responsible. See Ben Agande, ‘El-Rufai inaugurates commission of inquiry into Kajuru killings’ (Vanguard, 8 August 2019) <https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/08/el-rufai-inaugurates-commission-of-inquiry-into-kajuru-killings/> accessed 10 March 2024; ‘El-Rufai inaugurates Kajuru commission of inquiry’ (Kaduna State Government of Nigeria, 2 March 2021) <https://kdsg.gov.ng/2021/03/02/el-rufai-inaugurates-kajuru-commission-of-inquiry/> accessed 10 March 2024; Don Silas, ‘Kaduna: judicial commission of inquiry submits report on Kajuru crisis to El-Rufai’ (Daily Post, 3 September 2020) <https://dailypost.ng/2020/09/03/kaduna-judicial-commission-of-inquiry-submits-report-on-kajuru-crisis-to-el-rufai/> accessed 10 March 2024.

[39] Callamard (n 36) 66.

[40] Judgement, ECW/CCJ/JUD/06/19 (ECOWAS Court of Justice, 26 February 2019) <http://www.courtecowas.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/JUD_ECW_CCJ_JUD_06_19.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024.

[41] Office of the Prosecutor, ‘Situation in Nigeria—Article 5 Report’ (International Criminal Court, 5 August 2013) <https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/iccdocs/PIDS/docs/SAS%20-%20NGA%20-%20Public%20version%20Article%205%20Report%20-%2005%20August%202013.PDF> accessed 10 March 2024; Office of the Prosecutor, ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2015)’ (International Criminal Court, 12 November 2015) 44-51 <https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/iccdocs/otp/OTP-PE-rep-2015-Eng.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024; Office of the Prosecutor, ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2019)’ (International Criminal Court, 5 December 2019) 47-52 <https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/itemsDocuments/191205-rep-otp-PE.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024; Office of the Prosecutor, ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2020)’ (International Criminal Court, 14 December 2020) 64-7 <https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/itemsDocuments/2020-PE/2020-pe-report-eng.pdf> accessed 10 March 2024; ‘ICC Prosecutor, Mr Karim A.A. Khan QC, concludes first official visit to Nigeria’ (International Criminal Court, 22 April 2022) <https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/icc-prosecutor-mr-karim-aa-khan-qc-concludes-first-official-visit-nigeria> accessed 10 March 2024.

[42] Office of the Prosecutor, ‘Situation in Nigeria—Article 5 Report’ (International Criminal Court, 5 August 2013) 13-21 <https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/iccdocs/PIDS/docs/SAS%20-%20NGA%20-%20Public%20version%20Article%205%20Report%20-%2005%20August%202013.PDF> accessed 10 March 2024.

[43] ‘eyeWitness and partners file urgent appeal to UN regarding extrajudicial killings in Nigeria’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, 15 June 2022) <https://www.eyewitness.global/eyewitness-and-partners-file-appeal-to-UN-regarding-extrajudicial-killings-in-Nigeria> accessed 10 March 2024.

[44] This submission was confidential and there is no public version available.

[45] ‘Nigeria: Joint submission for the fourth Universal Periodic Review, January-February 2024’ (eyeWitness to Atrocities, 1 August 2023)<https://www.eyewitness.global/Nigeria-joint-submission-human-rights-council-45th-session-universal-periodic-review-upr-2024> accessed 10 March 2024.

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