Establishing Networks to Implement the Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations (IMPLEMENDEZ)

Start date 05/10/2023 End date 04/10/2027

Project overview

Interviews conducted across the world by police and other law enforcement agencies with suspects, victims and witnesses are crucially important in determining criminal justice outcomes. The Action Team knows from their combined expertise that there are two distinct approaches worldwide.

Firstly, several Member countries have developed (or are developing) an ethical approach termed ‘investigative interviewing’, that aims to obtain detailed and reliable information, while respecting human rights. This approach is consistent with the ‘Principles of Effective Interviewing’, known as the ‘Mendez Principles’ after the UN Special Rapporteur: Professor Juan Mendez. Over a four-year period, he led a committee of experts including those in law, forensic psychology and criminology alongside representation from civil society, culminating in publication of the document in May 2021, grounded in science, law and ethics.

Secondly, however, it is well chronicled both from the literature and actual cases that law enforcement agencies in most countries remain unaware of the investigative interviewing approach, undertaking unethical practices, characterized by guilt presumption and confession-orientation that often rely on psychological manipulation, intimidation or physical torture, and can lead to miscarriages of justice and failed investigations.

This Action involves a timely and much-needed strategy of convening regional and in-country networks of researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with each other and with the Action Team to build on our early work to enable wider implementation of the ‘Mendez Principles’, ending cruel and inhumane practices that have adversely affected so many lives through unethical interrogations.  

Specific Objectives

To achieve the main objective described here, the following specific objectives shall be accomplished:

Research Coordination

  • Develop a strategic framework for investigation transformation (FIT), underpinning the Mendez Principles that is agreed through collaboration with networks of researchers, practitioners and policy makers including countries yet to fully adopt those principles.
  • Develop adapted models of investigative interviewing, jointly with stakeholders that accommodate local contexts/cultures but do not distort the Mendez Principles, and continue to observe law, ethics and science.
  • Promote the development of Mendez Centres of Interviewing Excellence.
  • Promote agreed frameworks for investigation transformation (FITs) for implementation of the Mendez principles in place, pathways and the formulation of models of investigative interviewing and involving any required adaptations of the Mendez Principles.
  • Disseminate agreed methodologies and tools that are consistent with the Mendez Principles to assist in the implementation of those Principles.

Capacity Building

  • Build a networking structure that creates ‘an ecosystem for learning’ to implement the Mendez Principles, appropriately incorporating legal frameworks, policies that support ethical interviewing, standards that are transparent and accountable, institutional leadership, training, guidance and support, and a research evidence base.
  • Through development of a matrix of FITs, build and support regional and in-country networks of researchers, practitioners and policy makers that help strengthen the pillars of the ecosystem.
  • Promote the development and strengthening of capacity building skills and tools to investigators, defense and prosecution lawyers as well as judges, to undertake their roles professionally, while increasing their awareness and understanding of the Mendez Principles and ethical interviewing.
  • Promote the Mendez Centres of Interviewing Excellence to act as hubs and repositories for resources for multiple and multi-country stakeholders, to share experiences, sustain resilience during and beyond implementation of the Mendez Principles, and help advance science, policy and practice during and beyond the Action.
  • Provide capacity building opportunities to more stakeholders including existing practitioners, policy makers and research communities, through the implementation of proactive and inclusive network activities.
  • Provide capacity building opportunities to more ITCs and NNCs through the implementation of proactive and inclusive network activities that specifically target them.
  • Provide capacity building opportunities to more Young Researchers and Innovators (YRIs) through the implementation of proactive and inclusive network activities that specifically target them.
  • Encourage and support partners to develop mechanisms aiming at expansion and sustainability of the Action, beyond the Action’s lifetime.

Project funding

COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation.

“COST Actions are different to many other EU funded projects because it is possible to join and participate in a research network even once it has started running, this feature applies throughout the entire lifespan of the Action.”