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SILC participates in UNITAD/Nuremberg Academy training for Iraqi Judges

On 21 November 2022, Dov Jacobs from SILC participated in a Training for Iraqi Judges organised by the International Nuremberg Principles Academy and UNITAD organised in Nuremberg, Germany.

This 5-day training focused on a diverse selection of themes to reinforce domestic knowledge and expertise in international criminal law and international humanitarian law, such as the law of armed conflict, the history and practice of international criminal trials, the definition of international crimes, the law applicable to the punishment of terrorism, etc.

Dov Jacobs' presentation focused on two important issues.

First of all, the training delved into the scope and definition of the rights of the Defense in international criminal proceedings, centered around the key principle of the presumption of innocence. The discussion brought out some key aspects surrounding the principle of legality, i.e the importance of defining international crimes in a way that allows certainly and predictability for those concerned with the application of international criminal law, within the general context of the fight against impunity. Dov Jacobs highlighted the fact that the respect for the rights of the Defense is a societal choice that contributes to the legitimacy of the system as a whole and the enforcement of the international and national rule of law. As such, it should be of concern to the international community as a whole that these rights be respected.

Second of all, the training addressed some fundamental aspects of the right to detain persons in international and non-international armed conflict. In particular, the discussion focused on the ambiguities surrounding the legal basis to detail persons in non-international armed conflict and the difficult and overlapping interaction between several sources of law: treaty law, customary law, human rights law, domestic law and soft law norms, such as the Mandela rules. The discussion brought out the tension between international norms and local obstacles in combatting crimes and the importance of reinforcing domestic capacities in order for justice to be delivered as close as possible to the affected communities in order for it to be meaningful. In that respect, local Judges have the primary responsibility to use their discretion in the interpretation of the law that promotes accountability in full respect for the rule of law.

During the training, the Nuremberg Academy organised a visit to Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg trial of senior Nazi officials took place after the second world war, a trial symbolic of the modern birth of international criminal law and international criminal trials, precursor to the ad hoc tribunals and

The visit of Courtroom 600 was an opportunity to engage in a fruitful discussion with the participants not only about the groundbreaking moment that the Nuremberg trial represents in the fight against impunity but also the limits of remote and victor's justice and the difficulty of respecting the rights of the Defense, in such a morally charged context, both from the perspective of the principle of legality and from a practical point of view, given the volume of evidence that had to be analysed and challenged in a limited amount of time.

The trainings are always mutually enriching moments for both the participants and the trainer, and this one was no exception, with the training session being a moment of dialogue on best practices at the international and domestic level, taking into account the wealth of experience of those who, daily, in their domestic system, set up accountability mechanisms in difficult circumstances.

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