Victims rights and the International Criminal Court
07 / 2007 - unknown
Victim Participation. Crime is a violation of the human rights of the crime victim. Crimes against humanity represent the most heinous crimes and constitute a gross violation of the dignity of those victimized. International human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protect basic human rights such as participation, due process, material well being, equality, and peace. Viewing victims' rights as human rights implies an inclusive approach that promotes victim participation in the criminal justice system without restricting defendants' rights. The International Criminal Court deals with some of the most serious human rights violations including genocide, torture, rape and slavery. One of the major innovations of the International Criminal Court is the integration of victims in the criminal justice process. The Rome Statute of the ICC and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence contain specific references with respect to the role of victims including notification, reparation and participation. Unlike the Ad-hoc Tribunals for the Former Republic of Yugoslavia and Rwanda, where victims' only role is one of witnesses for the prosecution, the ICC allows victims to also participate as interested parties. However, the Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence do not specify just how victim participation is to be put into practice. This is left up to the Court to determine. There is a great deal of ambiguity as well as lack of clarity regarding the mechanisms applicable to victims' participation and rights. A key question for the ICC is how to apply victims' rights. A primary concern with respect to the implementation of the Rules and Statutes with respect to victims is secondary victimization. Authorities must strive to avoid unnecessarily augmenting victims' suffering through insensitive procedures that fail to take into account their impact on victims. Yet once new practices are put in place they are hard to change. Therefore it is highly important that, from the outset, the implementation of victim-related measures is done with careful consideration of the possible impact on victims. This part of the research programme will firstly analyze the implementation of victims rights within the context of the ICC. It examines the opinions of those working at the ICC with respect to victim notification, reparation and participation. In addition, it explores procedures found in national criminal justice systems that promote the integration of victims and which may be useful for the ICC. The study lies on the axis of law (international and criminal), psychology and victimology, focusing on the psychological impact of laws and procedures on victims of gross violations of human rights. The results of this study will enhance our understanding of how the ICC applies the rules and procedures with respect to victims. This information will aid in assuring that victims rights are respected and that victims have a clear idea of what they can expect from the Court. This in turn will enhance victims satisfaction with the Court, reinforcing their sense of justice and thereby underpinning the legitimacy of the Court and promote victim cooperation with it. Victim Reparation Specific emphasis will furthermore be put on the concept of victim reparation and the ICC. The ICC reparation regime is applauded as the first international attempt to provide reparations to victims of international crimes. However, the reparation regime may turn out to be a dead letter, as the provisions on reparation are very open and the effectiveness of the ICC reparation regime is highly dependent on the political will of the States Parties to the ICC Statute. In its current form, the ICC reparation regime is by far not clear enough. Complex legal technicalities arise from the new reparation regime, which are not contemplated by the ICC Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence, although it is likely that the new reparation regime will have a major impact on the course of justice before the ICC. This part of the research aims to analysing the legal and political problems blocking a strong and just ICC reparations to victims regime.