The International Criminal Court announced on Monday that for the first time, its judges went as a group to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The judges “paid their respect to the victims of the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which serves as a somber reminder of the importance of the court’s mandate to fight impunity for the perpetrators of such atrocities” in a Saturday visit, a statement from the ICC said.
The visit took place at the end of a seminar and retreat held Thursday through Saturday in Krakow, aimed at improving ICC appeals proceedings.
Two earlier retreats had been held in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2015, and Limburg, Netherlands, in 2016, in which the focus was on pre-trial and trial issues.
During the visit to Krakow, ICC President Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi emphasized that the court is both independent and interdependent.
“As for any national judicial institution, independence is essential to the identity of the court and the achievement of its goals”. At the same time, she recalled that “states and organizations have a crucial role in enabling the court to fulfill its core mandate.”
Fernández stressed the interrelation between cooperation and performance. She said the court must strive to enhance confidence by delivering high quality justice.
“Enhancing efficiency and effectiveness at the ICC is a top priority. Judges of the court are strongly committed to leading these efforts by collectively addressing ways to improve and expedite proceedings at all stages of the court’s judicial cycle.”
A statement by the Polish Foreign Ministry also noted the judges’ visit to Auschwitz- Birkenau, “a former German Nazi concentration camp where the most serious crimes” in international criminal law “were committed.”