Victims first

"...during this century millions of children, women, and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the consciene of humanity" - Rome Statute preamble.

Victims of grave crimes are the reason the ICC exists. The Rome Statute empowers victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide to hold their persecutors to account and live with hope, dignity, and respect.  

The creation of a system of retributive and restorative justice that recognizes victims as its ultimate beneficiaries is largely due to the tireless efforts of civil society organizations at the Rome conference in 1998. Recent years, however, have seen the system’s restorative emphasis undermined by financial and political constraints.

Civil society is now laying down a new marker for all stakeholders in the Rome Statute system to recommit to a victims-centered approach. By so doing, we can ensure that ICC judgments do not amount to mere pronouncements of law, but have a tangible impact in the betterment of the lives of those who have already lost so much.

Victims in the ICC system

The ICC is the first international court to give victims the right to participate in trial proceedings. Victims can—through a Court- or self-appointed legal representative—present their views and concerns. The Rome Statute also establishes victims’ rights to seek and receive reparations. 

Reparations are not limited to monetary compensation. They can come in many forms, including rehabilitation. Reparations are decided by the Court’s judges and—when ordered by the judges—administered by the Trust Fund for Victims.  

The Court provides victims with protective measures, counseling, and other assistance if need be. Victims also have a right to be informed about the proceedings in which they have an interest. 

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The Trust Fund for Victims

Established under the Rome Statute, the Trust Fund for Victims has two missions:

  • To implement reparations when ordered by the Court’s judges; and
  • To provide general assistance, including physical rehabilitation, material support, and/or psychological rehabilitation to victims while proceedings carry on.

From October 2014 to June 2015 alone, the Trust Fund provided assistance to almost 60,000 direct beneficiaries and over 120,000 indirect beneficiaries in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Court has active investigations. 

Court-ordered reparations can come from the convicted person’s assets. When the convicted person has little or no assets, the Trust Fund can also contribute to reparations to victims.

The Trust Fund’s ability to provide general assistance is dependent on voluntary contributions from states and non-state entities. Consider making a donation today.

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Victims’ Rights Working Group

The Coalition helped to establish the Victims’ Rights Working Group (VRWG)—a network of over 300 civil society organizations that works to ensure that victims’ rights at the ICC are protected and respected.

Established in 1997, the VRWG played a crucial role in the drafting of the Rome Statute, ensuring that important provisions on victims’ rights were included in the Court’s founding document.

Today, the VRWG works to guarantee that these provisions are properly implemented and that victims’ needs and concerns are met at all stages of the ICC’s judicial processes.

Learn more about the VRWG

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Building trust a must

While victims of atrocity crimes are at the heart of the ICC’s work, local communities may find following courtroom proceedings in The Hague challenging. The Coalition and its members support the ICC’s initiative to promote knowledge and understanding about the Court among victims and affected communities in regions where the Court is active. While an uphill battle, outreach is essential for this.

Outreach: an uphill battle
Several ICC officesThe ICC has  have been engaged in making justice more visible over the past years, with. tThe Court’s Registry , predominately through its outreach unit, doinges essential work to promote better understanding of the Court and its judicial processes. ItsBy focusing is on in countries where the ICC prosecutor is investigating, outreach, thereby canto managinge expectations, and addresssing misconceptions, and engage affected communities in a two-way dialogue.

ICC outreach activities are designed to promote understanding of and support for the Court’s mandate in ICC situation countries, thereby managing expectations and enabling affected communities to follow and understand ICC processes, by engaging them in a two-way dialogue.

This Ooutreach work is also vital to creating conditions conducive to facilitateing participation and legal representation of victims in an ICC proceedingsproceedingstrial;. Outreach is also about can  explaining due process rights; facilitateing redress for affected communities; and createing an enabling and supportive environment for ICC field engagement and presence.

Early and direct outreach with victims and affected communities  helps makes victims’ participation in ICC trialsproceedings more effective, which can in turn reduce costs related to the judicial process. (and so also to keep the costs down). ensure the cost efficient implementation of the ICC legal mandate with regards to victims’ participation. 

Read more about how we work to make justice visible to world over.

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