The Netherlands announces intention to earmark €2 million to combat impunity

At a digital event dedicated to fighting impunity, which was organised in collaboration with International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), foreign minister Blok announced that the government would be setting aside an additional €2 million to support UN teams involved in fact-finding investigations and seeking justice for victims of serious human rights violations.

‘All over the world, perpetrators of serious human rights violations still go unpunished,’ the foreign minister said. ‘But this climate of impunity cannot be allowed to continue.’

Because certain countries obstruct the work of the International Criminal Court, other methods must be used to achieve justice.

Gathering evidence

The Netherlands is already highly active in this area. In order to ensure that the most serious violators are brought to trial, evidence must be gathered and facts brought to light. Organisations and civil society groups that work hard to document such offences deserve support.

This is why the Netherlands has campaigned hard for the establishment of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM), a body that gathers and analyses evidence of crimes in Syria.

‘Thanks in part to this mechanism, together with the UN Commission of Inquiry and civil society organisations, we were able to hold Syria accountable for serious human rights violations,’ the foreign minister said. ‘This is a major step in achieving justice for the victims.’

An evidence database has already been set up for Myanmar. UN teams have also been assembled for Yemen, Venezuela and Libya in order to investigate human rights violations. This constitutes a first step in gathering evidence and determining the seriousness of the situation.

The UN human rights organisation (OHCHR) fulfils a key role in the work being done by the various teams that are involved in fact-finding investigations and the broader fight against impunity. In 2021 the Netherlands will be giving OHCHR an additional €2 million.

This contribution will help safeguard the quality and consistency of the various teams focused on serious violations and enable OHCHR to respond rapidly and effectively when new situations arise involving large-scale human rights violations.

‘The quest for global accountability has progressed tremendously since the ICJ began working nearly 70 years ago,’ said Sam Zarifi, Secretary General of the ICJ. ‘Over the last three decades in particular we have seen increasing efforts to seek justice at the international level as well as through national courts.  We now have to ensure these efforts are more coherent and are able gather and preserve evidence critical for the successful prosecution of crimes under international law.’

Online event

Today, Mr Blok opened this online event in which over 40 countries, numerous NGOs and victim’ advocacy groups will discuss how best to enhance these various efforts.

‘The aim is to enable the evidence databases and the UN investigation teams to get even closer to their ultimate goal of achieving justice for victims,’ the minister remarked.

There will be a number of keynote speakers at the event, including:

  • The UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehri;
  • The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda;
  • Representatives of victim advocacy groups from Myanmar and Yemen.