Publication of a report of the FIDH Legal Action Group

Supporting the participation of victims from DRC before the International Criminal Court

In the context of the Fifth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC), held in The Hague from 23 November to 1 December 2006 [1], FIDH is publishing a report entitled: "Supporting the participation of victims from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before the ICC".

The report describes the work FIDH and its Legal Action Group (GAJ: network of magistrates, lawyers and legal experts), in support of its member organisations in DRC (ASADHO, Groupe Lotus and Ligue des Électeurs), have been doing since 2004 with the objective of allowing victims of the most serious crimes committed in DRC since 1 July 2002 to assert their right to justice by participating in proceedings before the ICC, following the referral by the Congolese State to the Prosecutor of the ICC of the situation in DRC on 19 April 2004.

Based on the fact that numerous obstacles concerning protection and legal issues could prevent victims from acting by themselves before the ICC, the report emphasizes the practical and legal initiatives undertaken by FIDH to support and go along with the participation of Congolese victims before the ICC: launching investigative missions, collecting evidence, nominating legal representatives - members of the GAJ -, submitting applications for participation in the DRC situation proceedings.

The system elaborated by FIDH has come to be efficient and contributed to the ICC case law in favor of victims. The Pre-Trial Chamber I 17 January 2006 historic decision has ruled that the 6 persons, supported by FIDH and having applied for participation, were victims of crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Moreover, the judges granted these 6 victims the right to express their views and concerns before the ICC from the investigation stage, opened by the Prosecutor in DRC, and detailed the modalities of such participation in the ICC proceedings.

This report stresses that for Congolese victims the right to justice is indivisible from peace and security in DRC. It also underlines how the participation of victims, as soon as the investigation stage begins, is central to the fight against impunity of those responsible of the most serious crimes brought to the ICC and to prevent future crimes.

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