On 16 and 17 July 2019, the Protection Strategies Unit of Office of the Office of the Prosecutor and the Victims Witness Section of the Registry of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”) held a Seminar in Dakar, Senegal, on the protection of witnesses.
The event brought together more than 25 focal points for witness security management from the region, including representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
During the opening of the Seminar, the ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, stated: “this gathering provides us with a helpful opportunity to enhance our cooperation on witness protection, through sharing expertise and strategies, and strengthening best practices”, emphasizing that State cooperation with the Court is crucially important to ensure the protection of witnesses.
This Seminar is the second in a series of regional workshops aimed at fostering cooperation and sharing of experience and expertise on witness protection and security in the region, where the ICC is currently conducting various investigations. Issues addressed included: best practices for safe and secure management of witnesses, information security, security and alert protocols, cooperation and complementarity with the Court, amongst other topics of relevance.
The ICC has a number of protective measures that can be granted to witnesses to victims who appear before the Court and to other persons at risk on account of testimony given by a witness. Protective measures are used to ensure the safety of witnesses and preserve their well-being. They apply equally to all witnesses, no matter if they are called by the Prosecution, the Defence, the Legal Representatives of Victims or the Judges.
The Court is grateful for the financial support of the European Commission for the event and the cooperation of the Senegalese authorities who hosted the Seminar.