Document - The International Criminal Court: Fact sheet 6 - Ensuring justice for victims
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The International Criminal
Fact sheet 6
Ensuring justice for
''Victims should be treated
with compassion and respect for their dignity. They are entitled to
access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress, as
provided for by national legislation, for the harm they have
United Nations Declaration of
Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of
Power, Principle 4
There is currently a
resurgence of international interest in ensuring that criminal
justice takes better account of victims and their rights. This is
reflected in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
(Statute), which enshrines three key principles: victim
participation in the proceedings, protection of victims and
witnesses and the right to reparations. The Statute requires the
International Criminal Court (ICC) at all times to ensure that the
measures taken are not prejudicial or inconsistent with the rights
of the accused and a fair and impartial trial.
I. PARTICIPATION IN THE
What is the place of the
victim under the Statute?
The Preamble indicates that
ensuring justice for victims lies at the heart of the Statute, by
recalling ''that during this century millions of children, women
and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply
shock the conscience of humanity''.
The Statute recognizes that
the interests of justice and the interests of victims are
complementary. The overriding interest of victims is likely to be
the interest in seeing that crimes are effectively investigated and
that justice is done.
Can victims participate in
The ICC does not treat
victims as passive objects of protection or instruments of the
prosecution. The Statute recognizes the contribution that victims
can make to the criminal process and the importance of that process
to victims. Accordingly, Article 68 (3) requires the ICC to permit
the views and concerns of victims to be presented and considered at
appropriate stages in the proceedings.
What is the role of victims
in initiating an investigation or prosecution?
Article 15 authorizes the
Prosecutor to initiate investigations based on information from any
source, including from victims. Victims may make representations
when the Pre-Trial Chamber is deciding whether to authorize an
investigation, and must be informed when the Prosecutor or the
Pre-Trial Chamber decide not to proceed with an
Can victims participate at
any stage of the trial and post-trial proceedings?
Article 68 (3) provides that
the ICC shall permit victims to present their views and concerns to
the ICC for its consideration at any appropriate stage of the
proceedings and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or
inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and
impartial trial. Appropriate stages of proceedings should encompass
the trial, sentencing, award of reparations and post-trial
proceedings, including the appeal, sentence reduction hearings,
review and release hearings.
II. PROTECTION OF VICTIMS AND
Does the Statute recognize
the importance of protecting victims and witnesses?
The Statute recognizes that
measures to guarantee the safety, physical and psychological
well-being, dignity and privacy of victims, witnesses and their
families are essential to support the ICC's credibility and
Will there be a special unit
to assist victims and witnesses?
Article 43 (6) provides for
the establishment of a Victims and Witnesses Unit in the ICC
Registry. It will provide protective measures, security
arrangements, counselling and other appropriate assistance to
victims, witnesses who appear before the ICC and others, such as
family members, who are at risk because of such testimony. Article
68 (4) authorizes the Unit to advise the Prosecutor and the rest of
the ICC on such measures. It will include experienced staff,
trained to deal with traumatized individuals, including victims of
sexual violence and child victims.
What are the responsibilities
of the Prosecutor to victims under the Statute?
Article 54(1)(b) requires the
Prosecutor during the course of an investigation or prosecution to
respect the interests and personal circumstances of victims and
witnesses, including age, gender and health, and take into account
the nature of the crime, in particular where it involves sexual
violence, gender violence or violence against children.
In addition, Article 68(1)
requires the Prosecutor to take appropriate measures, particularly
during the investigations and prosecutions of crimes to protect the
safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy
of victims and witnesses.
Article 68(5) further
provides that the Prosecutor may withhold until the trial evidence
and information, by submitting a summary thereof, if it may lead to
grave endangerment of the security of the witness or his/her
What are the responsibilities
of the Pre-Trial Chamber and the Trial Chamber to
Article 57(3) states that the
Pre-Trial Chamber may, where necessary, provide for the protection
and privacy of victims and witnesses and Article 68(1) authorizes
the Trial Chamber to take protective measures. Article 68(3)
provides that the ICC may also protect the identity of victims and
witnesses from the press and public by conducting any part of the
proceedings by video camera or allow the presentation of evidence
by electronic or other special means.
Can the ICC award reparations
In addition to bringing the
perpetrator to justice, which is itself a crucially important form
of reparations, the ICC is required under Article 75 (1) to
establish principles relating to reparations, and it may order a
convicted person to provide reparations to victims, including
restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, guarantees
of non-repetition, and any other type of reparations to victims it
deems appropriate in the particular case.
How will such awards be made
by the ICC?
Article 75 (2) provides that
the ICC may order a convicted person to make reparations directly
to victims or through an ICC Trust Fund. Before making such an
award, the ICC may invite, and must take account of, the views of
the convicted person, victim and interested persons or states. To
ensure that assets are not concealed or transferred to avoid paying
reparations, the ICC can take protective measures to ensure that
assets of an accused are preserved pending the outcome of the
trial, so that they can be forfeited, particularly for the benefit
of victims, if the person is convicted.
What is the role of states in
States parties agree under
Article 75 (2) to give effect to any ICC decision on reparations.
In some cases, states parties will also have an obligation under
international or national law to ensure that they themselves
provide reparations to the victims, either when the convicted
person is unable to make reparations or when the state itself is
also responsible for the crime.
A publication of the
International Justice Project