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Estonia Supports Strengthening International Criminal Court’s Witness Protection

22.05.2013

Nr 169-E

The Foreign Ministry is supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) in strengthening witness protection in Dakar, Senegal and Kampala, Uganda.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised the International Criminal Court’s vital role in helping victims of crimes against humanity. “The International Criminal Court carries out investigations in many African countries in the conditions of ongoing or recently ended conflicts, where ensuring the security of witnesses can often be problematic,” said Foreign Minister Paet. “The goal of the seminars the International Criminal Court will hold is to address issues related to witness protection, improve co-operation between the court and countries in Africa, and increase the countries’ capabilities in the area of witness protection,” he added.

The target group for the seminar taking place in Dakar in June of this year is French-speaking African countries. A seminar on the same topic intended for English-speaking African countries will be organised in Kampala in October. The seminars are meant for representatives of the ministries of justice of the countries as well as experts who deal closely with the topic of witness protection. Among those speaking at the seminar will be Estonian Ambassador to the International Criminal Court and President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties Tiina INtelmann.

The ICC’s goal is to conclude witness protection agreements that would allow witnesses in danger to be relocated to other countries with a greater number of African countries. Protecting witnesses and ensuring their safety is a central issue for the court and one of the most difficult to address. The 13 witness protection agreements that have been concluded thus far are not enough to ensure the safety of witnesses who are being relocated.

The main organisers and financer of the seminars is Norway. The organisation of the seminars is also being supported financially by the Netherlands. Senegal and Uganda will provide help in organising and carrying out the seminars. The Foreign Ministry is supporting the organisation  of the ICC seminars with 15 000 euros allocated from its budget for development and humanitarian aid.

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