Deliberate incidents or malicious crimes involving the use of chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear materials are generally considered to have a low probability of occurrence but have a high impact. This low probability is due to the regulated access to such materials, as well as the requirement to have a sophisticated scientific knowledge and proper equipment to weaponize these CBRN agents so that they produce a high impact. A robust national security architecture also helps to make these crimes less likely.
The cross-cutting nature of prosecutorial work often entails close coordination and cooperation between investigative agencies and judicial authorities. For this reason, prosecution authorities need to know in detail how to take the criminal case from the CBRN-contaminated crime scene to the courtroom and how to convince the jury and judge about the evidence and proof gathered during this process.
In the framework of the European Union’s (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, UNICRI worked closely with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) and the On-Site Technical Assistance to the EU CBRN CoE (Project 94), to conduct a five-day training course, entitled “Building a case for the prosecution of chemical and biological crimes”. This training course was developed with the funding received from the European Commission. The training course is a stand-alone modulable session, consisting of 37 lessons, which can be easily adapted to the different needs of the beneficiary partner countries.
The training is based on the UNICRI’s Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes, which was also developed with the European Union’s funding in close coordination with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Association of Prosecutors. The Guide aims to provide police, prosecutors, and relevant investigative bodies with guidance to support the successful prosecution of incidents involving the deliberate acquisition, stockpiling, production, transfer, or use/misuse of a chemical or biological agent. A comprehensive capacity building and training package has been developed by UNICRI to integrate the Guide into the professional duties of prosecutors and justice officials.
The training course “Building a case for the prosecution of chemical and biological crimes” took place in Rzeszow (Poland) from 3 to 7 April 2023. It was fully funded by the Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) Service of the European Commission. Thirty participants from relevant ministries and agencies of Ukraine attended the training, including participants from the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Security Service, the State Border Guard Service, the National Guard, the Ministry of Defence, the National Police, and the State Emergency Service. Experienced senior prosecutors, attorneys, CBRN experts and training specialists conducted the training course by sharing their professional experience in the prosecution of CBRN crimes.
The beneficiary trainees learned about the international legal framework; international assistance and support in investigation and prosecution; mutual legal assistance in investigation and prosecution; CBRN crime scene investigation; national laws and counterparts; legislation, criminalization and classification; key partners and national capabilities in an investigation and prosecution; planning the investigation and prosecution of CB crimes; investigation case review, case transfer and duration; Investigative intelligence; CBRN undercover operations; chain of custody, integrity and admissibility in court; best practices and real case examples.
In the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Initiative, the United Nations Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) has recently launched a capacity building and training initiative entitled “BRIDGE”. It aims to strengthen the capacity of prosecutors and judicial authorities to bridge the gaps in the prosecution and adjudication of CBRN and other relevant crimes. Through the BRIDGE initiative, UNICRI also plans to enhance the CBRN response capabilities of its beneficiary countries; support countries in taking the criminal case from the crime scene to the courtroom; raise awareness on the importance of assessing national CBRN capabilities; encourage the implementation of the relevant international conventions and legal instruments; assist during the criminalization phase and development of national legislation in close coordination with international partners; and transfer all training packages to the identified training institutions.