find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Young lawyers investigate war crimes

Young lawyers investigate war crimes

A new project established for the purposes of gathering evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka has been launched by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the NSW Young Lawyers today.A…

A new project established for the purposes of gathering evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka has been launched by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the NSW Young Lawyers today.

A collaborative effort between the two organisations, the project aims to gather statements from witnesses to the long-running civil conflict between Sri Lankan Government forces and the Tamil Tigers.

It is hoped the evidence will eventually be used in a war crimes tribunal, the establishment of which is currently under consideration by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Alternatively, it is anticipated that any cogent evidence of war crimes which emerges from the project might persuade the Australian Government to prosecute individuals under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

"Australia has a long history of taking Sri Lankan refugees, and it does often happen that the perpetrators are in amongst the refugees," said project leader Dr Robert Dubler SC at a press conference today.

"Where there are war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity ... the Australian Government could commence a prosecution for those offences committed in Sri Lanka. [The project] ... might provide an incentive for the Australian Government to launch a prosecution, if the evidence is there."

John Dowd AO QC, president of ICJ Australia, said another aim of the project is to deter perpetrators from committing future atrocities, particularly in relation to the 90,000 Sri Lankans still held captive by government forces.

"[This] is an offence in international law. If [the captives] are being treated without proper dignity is an offence," said Dowd.

"There is a series of offences occurring now. These people should be allowed out. They should be allowed to go back to their homes ... we will inevitably find evidence of such crimes."

Much of the ground work will be carried out by a team of around 60 volunteer young lawyers, who will work at different phases of the project depending on their training and level of experience.

"Young lawyers are very interested in this [project] and we have had a phenomenal response," said Anne-Marie Doueihy, lawyer and former vice-chair of the Young Lawyers International Law Committee.

"We are hoping this will be a precedent. We are interested in having a process in place that can be easily followed for other war crimes," she added.

"If we can save lives, that is the aim, and I think that is why young lawyers are really involved in this project."

And while it is anticipated that the Australian Government may not be entirely supportive of the project, it does not faze the project's leaders.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is not necessarily concerned with the administration of justice," said Dowd.

"They are concerned with inter-government relations. Australia is helping the government of Sri Lanka, so there will inevitably be a conflict with DFAT and some other departments. That is not our concern. Our concern is the rule of law and the administration of justice."

- Claire Chaffey

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Young lawyers investigate war crimes
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...