Victims’ Rights Before the International Criminal Court : A Guide for Victims, their Legal Representatives and NGOs

FIDH is launching its "Guide for Victims, their Legal Representatives and NGOs on Victims’ Rights before the International Criminal Court".

The International Criminal Court was created in 1998 so that perpetrators are finally held accountable; to try the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; so that victims are recognised and rehabilitated; to prevent recurrence of the atrocious crimes they have
suffered; and to hold back the hands of criminals.

A fundamental condition must be fulfilled for these objectives to be attained: the appropriation by victims and, beyond them, by civil society at large, of the system of the ICC.

This guide will help victims, their legal representatives and NGOs to use the International Criminal Court and to support victims, at last, to obtain truth, justice and reparations.

In accordance with the mandate of FIDH and based on its extensive experience in supporting and assisting victims in their legal actions before national tribunals, FIDH decided to extend the activities of its Legal Action Group to facilitating victims’ participation and legal representation before the ICC.

Over the last three years, FIDH, in collaboration with its members and partners, has transmitted communications and information to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, concerning crimes which fall within the ICC’s jurisdiction. By assisting and supporting victims in their applications to participate in proceedings before the ICC, FIDH aims to contribute to the effective recognition of victims’ rights before the ICC. In particular, FIDH has been working extensively with victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has contributed to the clarification of the regime for victims’ participation.

FIDH has indeed been at the origin of a historic decision of the International Criminal Court on 17 January 2006, concerning the first applications of victims for participation submitted by members of the FIDH Legal Action Group. Pre-Trial Chamber I emphasided that: "The Statute [of the ICC] grants victims an independent voice and role in proceedings before the Court. It should be possible to exercise this independence, in particular, vis-à-vis the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court so that victims can present their interests ... The Chamber considers that article 68 (3) of the Statute also gives victims the right to participate in the fight against impunity... The Chamber considers that the personal interests of victims are affected in general at the investigation stage, since the participation of victims at this stage can serve to clarify the facts, to punish the perpetrators of crimes and to request reparations for the harm suffered".

FIDH has produced a guide on victims’ rights. It explains in details proceedings and mechanisms for victims to participate, be represented, seek protection and reparation before the ICC.

The guide is also available in Spanish and in French.

Table of contents:
- Preface
- Foreword
- Abbreviations and Symbols
- Chapter I: The Evolution of Victims’ Access to Justice
- Chapter II: Introduction to the ICC: Structure and Basic Principles
- Chapter III: Outreach
- Chapter IV: Participation
- Chapter V: Legal Representation
- Chapter VI: Protection, Support and Assistance
- Chapter VII: Reparations and the Trust Fund for Victims
- Select Bibliography

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