Guest post by Iva Vukusic
A free and simple to use online database of cases of international crimes (link: http://www.internationalcrimesdatabase.org/Home) has been launched at the Asser Institute in The Hague recently allowing easier access to information on cases to lawyers, researchers, students and other interested parties.
After several years in the making, the database now holds around 500 cases searchable by category (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crime of aggression, torture, piracy, terrorism) as well as name of the defendant. In the future, the leaders of the project stress, they will strive to make the cases searchable also by country. Importantly, the database includes cases at international, national and hybrid tribunals.
The staff at the Asser Institute is also open to collaboration, asking for English translations of documents that might be missing and links to other relevant sources on the cases presented in the database. Each case is presented through a summary of the substance and the procedural history, giving links to original documents such as judgments whenever possible. Added value comes from the fact that for many cases, there are additional links to articles, commentaries and other sources useful to a researcher looking into the details of the case. There is an advanced search option, giving the user the possibility to further refine the search.
The website also offers short summaries on the history of the courts and the definitions of crimes and it will be broadened with time, especially the ‘commentary’ and ‘resources’ sections. In the commentary section, special attention is given to the ICD Briefs where relevant topics are discussed by mostly young emerging scholars and researchers in the field. The ‘video and audio’ section will come to include a variety of lectures and discussions held at the Asser Institute on a regular basis.
This database is by no means perfect but it is easy to use and with cooperation the organisers call for, it will grow and serve as an excellent source for everyone involved in war crimes investigations and trials, in academic work and research as well as for students trying to understand the nature of these crimes and how these cases play out in the courtrooms around the world.