740.00116 European War 1939/1343

Document No. C.7(1) : First Report of Committee I (Facts and Evidence) as Adopted at the 10th Meeting of the United Nations War Crimes Commission, 22 February, 1944 21

Preparation and Presentation of Cases of War Crimes to the Commission

As a result of examining a certain number of cases which have been transmitted to the Commission, Committee I proposes that the Commission should call the attention of the National Offices to the following points:

In the opinion of the Commission the papers sent to it in any particular case should state:
What is the offence alleged?
Can the offender be identified?
What was the degree of responsibility of the offender having regard to his position?
Was the offence committed on the offender’s own initiative or in obedience to orders, or in carrying out a system or legal disposition?
What evidence is available in support of the charge?
Any indication of the probable defence.
Whether the case appears to be reasonably complete.
It is desirable that in transmitting a charge the National Office should, in addition to specifying the heading in the List of War Crimes under which the charge falls, indicate what provisions, if any, of the national criminal law (whether civil or military) have been infringed by the accused.
It is understood that it may in some instances be impossible, for reasons of security, to identify a witness or witnesses by name in the documents transmitted to the Commission, but the National Offices are requested at least to state, in general terms, the evidence or information on which the charge is based; and all necessary information in regard to the witnesses should be available for communication orally to Committee I or to the Commission, if they are requested.
Committee I would be grateful if the National Offices would supply at least four copies of each case transmitted to the Commission—carbon copies on thin paper will suffice—in addition to the signed original.
It is important that the cases should be marked, in the place provided in the Form (i.e. “Charge No. . . . . .”) with national serial numbers indicating the way in which the charges are filed by the National Offices. The object is to provide a fool-proof method by which the cases can be identified in any correspondence relating to them between the Commission and the Offices. Unless this is done, cases may be confused with one another, particularly where the name of the accused is not known.
Titles, whether military or civil, and the names of military, naval and air formations, units, government departments or organisations etc. should not be translated, but should be left in their original language, with or without a translation, in order that they may be correctly stated in the Commission’s list of persons charged with war crimes.
Reference to prisoners of war camps, should show, if possible,
whether the camp is one for officers or for other ranks,
the official number or description,
the country in which the camp is situated and its exact location.
In view of the possible death or disappearance of witnesses, or of their geographical dispersal, and of the deliberate destruction of evidence by the Axis in occupied countries, the Commission wishes to call the attention of the National Offices to the necessity of recording at once, while it is still available, evidence of war crimes in an authentic form, with a view not merely to the work of the Commission but also to prosecution for such crimes before the competent tribunals.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the American Representative on the Commission in his despatch 14138, February 29, 1944; received March 8.