ICLA contribution: Lead researcher Christof Heyns
The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016) is a set of international guidelines for the investigation of suspicious deaths, particularly those in which the responsibility of a State is suspected (either as a result of act or omission).
The original version of the Protocol, from 1991, was entitled the Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. It was designed to support the implementation of the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, which were endorsed by the United Nations in 1989. The Manual became known as the Minnesota Protocol because of the central role played by the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee in its development. The use of the term ‘Protocol’ reflects the forensic medicine element of the document rather than its legal status. In 2016, after a two-year process of revision, the new version of Minnesota Protocol was finalized by an international group of experts convened by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The revised version was published by the OHCHR in 2017.