DOHA: Under the patronage of Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and with the participation of over 250 organisations, the largest international conference themed “National, Regional and International Mechanisms to Combat Impunity and Ensure Accountability under international law” will begin today at the Ritz-Carlton Doha.
The two-day conference is being organised by the Qatar National Human Rights Committee (QNHRC) in partnership with the European Parliament, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
The conference will feature rich discussions in four main sessions and three working groups, and total of more than 20 research papers will be presented aiming at developing practical proposals. The conference will be an important platform for deliberations on the assessment and development of national and regional mechanisms to ensure combating impunity under international law.
The opening session of the conference will be addressed by Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, Chairman of the QNHRC; Antonio Benziri, Chairman of the European Parliament Human Rights Committee; Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Carlos Alfonso Negret Muskira, President of the GANHRI and Catherine Marchi-Ohel, President of the International and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes Committed in Syria.
Over 250 representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as the heads and experts of international commissions of inquiry, senior OHCHR staff, representatives of the United Nations contractual and non-contractual committees, experts and judges of specialized international tribunals and the International Criminal Court experts and lawyers who have filed cases before national courts operating in universal jurisdiction will attend the conference.
In addition, some specialised international agencies, regional human rights mechanisms, chairpersons of the European Parliament, national human rights institutions, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, research centers and think tanks in Europe and other relevant bodies and organizations as well as regional networks of national institutions will participate in the conference.
This is a big participation of a large number of journalists unions from the four continents and a number of representatives of Arab universities.
The working papers will be presented by important and competent figures on the issue of impunity, accountability and trial by experts, courts and international organizations, including the President of the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights and the International Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for Sierra Leone, as well as officials from the International Coalition of the International Criminal Court and parliamentarians; chairman of the committee of inquiry in Myanmar, the head of the UN Commission of Inquiry in Syria, judges of the International Criminal Court, heads of major international organisations, ministers of human rights and justice of some Arab countries, senior officials of the United Nations and the European Parliament, Commission on Human Rights in the European Parliament.
The opening session will be followed by three important sessions, moderated by officials and experts from international and international organizations. The first session of the Conference deals with the issue of “accountability for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law discussing two fundamental areas: investigation, prosecution, and the right of victims to redress, in accordance with the fundamental principles and guidelines of international law.”
The session will be chaired by Mohammed Ali Al Nosor, Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Office in Geneva, and Rapporteur Anna Katolo, OHCHR, Geneva.
The speakers at this session include Brenda J. Hollis, Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syrian; Mona Rishmawi, Chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch, OHCHR; and Nicole Amelin, Vice-Chairperson of the CEDAW Committee, UN.
The second session of the Conference will discuss “Protecting and promoting human rights in the fight against impunity” under three main theme: “The right to know, the right to justice, the right to compensation and guarantees of non-repetition”.
The session will be chaired by Ore Sylvain, President of African Court on Human and Peoples Rights and Rapporteur of the meeting will be Yasmin Abu Mansour, OHCHR. Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar; Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Center for Responsibility to Protect; Ahmed Chawki Benyoub, the ministerial representative responsible for human rights in Morocco, and François Membrez, lawyer and international expert, Geneva will participate in the session.
The second day of the Conference will consist three simultaneous working group sessions on “Good practices, lessons learned and concrete proposals to combat impunity”.
The first working group will examines the issue of “Access to Justice: Basic Principles and Guidelines”, and will be chaired by Nikolo Vieja Tlemanca, Secretary-General of “No Peace Without Justice” in Italy and Rapporteur, Michael Wiener of the OHCHR.
Presenters include Catherine Marchi-Uhel, Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian and Kimberly Prost, Judge at the International Criminal Court, UN, Hague, Dijwaida Siachi, President of the Rohingya Support Group in the United States of America.
The second working group will discusses the issue redressing and is chaired by Karen Smith, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Responsibility to Protect, and Rapporteur, Anna Katolo, OHCHR. Speakers will include Ben Keith, lawyer and Heidi Djekstal, a lawyer specializing in international criminal law and human rights, both of them from UK.
Working Group III will discuss access to information on violations and compensation mechanisms, chaired by Fausto Pocar, President of the Institute of International of Humanitarian Law, and Rapporteur, Yasmin Abu Mansour, OHCHR.
The speakers include Michel Fathi, Vice President of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Amal Nassar, Permanent Representative of the International Criminal Court, International Federation for Human Rights.
The Conference will conclude with remarks in a session chaired by Dr Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, Chairman of NHRC, Vice-President and Secretary-General of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.
The conference is expected to produce important recommendations that will make a leap in the development and effectiveness of these mechanisms, especially in light of the field experiences of the participating organizations and their impact on mobilizing international public opinion.
More than 50 leading media outlets in world capitals such as Washington, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Madrid and Berlin, including 20 of the worlds leading opinion writers, will attend the conference testify to the importance of the issue of “preventing impunity” as one of the issues that occupy world public opinion for the development and evaluation of the effectiveness of the international, regional and national system to combat impunity in cases of gross violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law at the level of mechanisms, organs and legislation.[contfnewc]