On 18 December 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor (the "Office") of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") hosted its annual meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board (the "Board"); this year in a virtual setting, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board provides updates and advice to the Prosecutor on developments in technologies and scientific methods and procedures that can further reinforce the Office's capabilities in the collection, management and analysis of scientific evidence. Science and technology are important aspects of the Office's work, and adapting to the changing scientific and technological environment in which it operates remains a significant consideration and priority at the Office.
In her opening remarks, the Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, expressed her appreciation to Board members for their contribution to the work of the Office. She emphasised her commitment, in line with the Office's strategic plans, to strengthening the use of scientific evidence in the investigation and prosecution of crimes listed in the Rome Statute, and her gratitude to the Board for its support in this regard. "As the demand for scientific evidence continues to increase, the Office needs the capacity to identify, recover and analyse forensic evidence of the highest relevance – both through in-house capacity and through partnerships with external organisations to access external resources," stated the Prosecutor.
In his annual report to the Office, the Chair of the Board, Prof. Duarte Nuno Vieira, thanked the Office for organising the meeting and for the support provided by the Office to the Board. He also noted the importance of the work of the Board to the field of humanitarian forensic science and medicine.
The Head of the Office's Forensic Science Section and Executive Secretary of the Board, Ms Sarah Donnelly, reported on relevant activities and updates from the Office. Also discussed during the meeting were the scientific priorities for the Office, the report of the
Independent Expert Review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute System, and the expansion of the Board's scientific support to the Office.
In his closing remarks, the Deputy Prosecutor, Mr James Stewart, expressed his appreciation to the Board for the expertise it brings to the Office and stressed the importance of scientific evidence to the success of the Office.
The following organisations were represented at the 7th meeting of the Board:
- Academia Iberoamericana de Criminalistica y Estudios Forenses;
- Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society;
- European Council of Legal Medicine;
- European Network of Forensic Science Institutes;
- Europol European Cybercrime Centre EC3;
- Ibero-American Network of Forensic Medicine and Forensic Science Institutions;
- International Academy of Legal Medicine;
- International Association of Forensic Sciences;
- International Forensic Strategic Alliance;
- INTERPOL International Forensic Science Managers Symposium, and
- Southern Africa Regional Forensic Science Network.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC's jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi Bangladesh/Myanmar and Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request). The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Colombia; Guinea; the Philippines; and Venezuela (I and II), while the situation in Palestine is pending a judicial ruling.