The Biosafety Association of Central Asia and the Caucasus (BACAC) in close cooperation with the European Union Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE) and the U.S. International Security and Non-proliferation Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction organized the International Conference on COVID-19 Lessons Learned. A key objective of the Conference, which was held in Tbilisi (Georgia) from 3-7 October 2022, was to enhance cooperation and coordination at the regional and international level.
Within this framework, UNICRI conducted a series of pre-conference events from 3-4 October, dedicated to the successful prosecution of chemical and biological crimes. The BACAC Conference focused on biosafety and biosecurity issues, and the workshop and the moot court conducted by UNICRI have proven to be a valuable side-line training activity. The BACAC Conference marked the second occasion for UNICRI to conduct its workshop and moot court simulation exercise. A similar training was recently organized during the CBRN Academy of UNICRI. Such capacity-building exercises are based on the Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes.
The Conference in Tbilisi was attended by officials and experts in the area of biosafety and biosecurity coming from Central Asia, the Caucasus and other regions. Two pre-conference training sessions conducted by UNICRI were attended by over 40 participants coming from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Germany, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Tajikistan Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Similar to the CBRN Centres of Excellence Academy organized in Turin in September, the workshop lasted two hours and tackled the real case scenario included in the Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes. UNICRI, together with a group of subject-matter experts, developed a detailed and comprehensive workshop to promote knowledge and technical skills on which participants can capitalize when working on real cases in their national contexts. Moreover, the workshop included several short videos sessions, enhancing participants’ understanding of the case and stimulating their critical skills and experience to solve the fictious scenario.
The attendees also took part in the demo moot court simulation exercise where they put in practice the lessons learned from the workshop. The demo moot court lasted an hour and included essential topics such as evidence preservation and integrity, intelligence gathering, and how to successfully prosecute a case. Participants actively cooperated and worked on the case and were able to conclude the moot court with great results and within the given time.
Overall, both the demo moot court and the workshop represented an additional significant component of the BACAC Conference. Participants were interested in these informative sessions and expressed the desire to take part in extended versions of the activities, and work towards enhancing their investigative and prosecutorial capabilities with the help of UNICRI and other partner organisations.
The Prosecutor’s Guide was published by UNICRI, in close cooperation with the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with funding received from the European Union (EU) CBRN Risk Mitigation CoE Initiative. Following the publication, several activities and training courses were developed and are now being implemented to provide prosecutors, investigators and other relevant law enforcement agencies and stakeholders with guidance to support the successful prosecution of incidents involving chemical or biological agents.