ICJ Practitioners’ Guide no. 14 Investigation and Prosecution of Potentially Unlawful Death aims to help legal practitioners ensure that potentially unlawful death is investigated in a manner that respects international human rights law and, where responsibility is identified, that appropriate measures of accountability ensue.
At the heart of the Guide is the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016), which was published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2017.
The revised Minnesota Protocol (2016) is the Revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, the revision of which involved expertise from the International Commission of Jurists and other leading organizations.
It is a companion document to the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (1989), and sets a common standard of performance in investigating potentially unlawful death and a shared set of principles and guidelines for States, as well as for institutions and individuals who play a role in death investigations.
Topics covered by the Practitioners’ Guide include:
- Potentially unlawful death and the duty to prosecute;
- The duties of states to investigate and prosecute;
- The rights of victims’ families and of witnesses;
- General principles of forensic investigation of potentially unlawful death;
- Forensic investigation of potentially unlawful death: types of evidence and the chain of custody;
- Forensic investigation of potentially unlawful death: crime scene management and victim identification;
- Forensic investigation: the autopsy;
- The effective prosecution of individuals responsible for unlawful death;
- Specific guidance for prosecutors and defence lawyers; and
- Potentially unlawful death in armed conflict.
This Practitioners’ Guide builds on earlier Guides, especially:
The Practitioners’ Guide would not have been possible without the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and was produced as part of the ICJ’s Global Accountability Initiative.
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