On 20 October 2017, a plenary conference entitled 'The International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Cooperation: The Challenges of Asset Recovery' was held in Paris, France, sponsored by the Ambassadors of France and Senegal to The Netherlands, facilitators of the Working Group on Cooperation of States Parties to the Rome Statute, and thanks to the generous financial support of the European Commission, the International Organization of La Francophonie, the French National School for the Judiciary, and the French Republic.
The conference gathered senior state officials, officials of the International Criminal Court, national and international experts in financial investigations and asset recovery, representatives of regional and international organisations, as well as members of civil society. The event provided a unique opportunity for participants to share their experience and best practices on this crucial issue, and discuss concrete ways to strengthen cooperation between the Court and various actors in this matter.
Indeed, the effectiveness of the Court's financial investigations is essential to the success of several matters, including to implement the Office of the Prosecutor's fundamental investigative role and the strategy adopted by the Office to diversify its sources of evidence; to identify assets for the purpose of granting reparations to victims; and to prevent the misuse of legal aid.
"Cooperation is fundamental at the investigation stage to enable the collection of evidence that will be needed throughout the process", said French Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet.
"Cooperation between Senegal and the ICC takes into account the location, seizure and freezing of criminal assets", said Senegalese Minister of Justice Ismaïla Madior Fall.
"France is committed to the fight against impunity. It is a constant of our foreign policy", declared the French Secretary of State to the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.
"Strengthening financial investigations through increased and more effective cooperation is critically important in the fight against impunity and building a culture of accountability", said ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. "In today's inter-connected and borderless world, money moves as fast as ever. As a result, we are committed to a coordinated strategy whereby expertise and information is shared, within the relevant legal frameworks and as appropriate", she added.
State cooperation is mandatory in the area of asset recovery, as the Court has no police force or territory to consult cadastres or bank registers. What is at stake in this matter is the possible payment of reparations to the victims and the determination of the indigence of the suspects, said ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel at the Conference. "The seizure of criminal assets is also a key deterrent, in order to ensure that crime does not pay […] Reinforcing the resources available to the Court is needed to achieve tangible results in this area", he added.
At the end of the conference, participants discussed the draft Paris Declaration on Co-operation in Asset Recovery, which text has been agreed in principles and outlines and will be proposed for adoption by the co-facilitators at the next Assembly of States Parties in New York. The Paris Declaration reaffirms the commitment of States Parties to the Rome Statute to cooperate with the Court in the area of asset recovery and underlines different types of action to be taken to strengthen such cooperation.
Report on cooperation challenges faced by the Court with respect to financial investigations, 27 October 2015
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