VICTIMS AT THE CENTER OF JUSTICE: Reflections on the Promises and the Reality of Victim Participation at the ICC (1998-2018)

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© Pierre-Yves Ginet

Today, FIDH is launching its report on the reality of victims’ participation at the International Criminal Court (ICC), twenty years after the adoption of its founding treaty, and as the 17th session of the Assembly of States Parties is addressing victims rights at its plenary. This report is a collection of articles written by practitioners, victims lawyers, members of NGOs and ICC representatives, working with victims from Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Kenya, Myanmar, Palestine and Uganda.

The Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) grants victims the right to participate in proceedings where their personal interest is affected, remedying their earlier exclusion from international judicial proceedings. This feature of victim participation is considered one of the most innovative features of the ICC Statute as it is the first to grant victims the right to participate in international criminal proceeding.

FIDH has monitored the implementation of victims’ rights before the International Criminal Court since the entry into force of the ICC Statute. But what was envisioned in Rome under the system of victim participation at the ICC continues to be tested. With the growing number of victims seeking to participate in the ICC, different judicial approaches on modalities for participation have been explored and the situation is constantly evolving. Identifying modalities for effective victim participation without compromising the efficiency of the proceedings and the rights of other parties is essential, but it must not risk reducing victim participation in proceedings as merely symbolic. Unfortunately, FIDH has noted with growing concern a series of misconceptions in relation to the purpose and exercise of victims’ rights in judicial proceedings.

Twenty years after the adoption of the ICC Statute, FIDH embarked on a consultation project with those representing or supporting victims access to and/or participation at the ICC on achievements, concerns and challenges to meaningful victim participation at the ICC.

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