Some are More Equal than Others: Victim Participation in the ICC
Eyes on the ICC, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 23-48, 2008-2009
26 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2009 Last revised: 17 May 2010
Date Written: April 18, 2009
The International Criminal Court aims to give victims an opportunity to present their views and concerns in proceedings, something they did not have the opportunity to do at the ICTR and the ICTY. While giving victims a voice in proceedings is a noble intention, the formative practices of the ICC seem to suggest that victims are treated, to paraphrase the title of this paper, "more equally" than other participants in the trial procedure. Victims' participatory rights have essentially trumped those of the accused and hampered the expediency of trials, especially with regard to who can be considered a victim for the purpose of participation; the early stage at which participation can take place, and the form of participation. In spite of the best intentions of the ICC, this paper will also illustrate that the elevated treatment of victims ends up being of little significance to them in practice - for example, granting a general and vague right to participate at an early stage based on some criteria and then assessing the fairness and appropriateness at each subsequent stage can lead to disillusionment with the system. This paper recommends that applications to participate should be assessed alongside the appropriateness of the form of participation in one conclusive step; that participation should be limited to specific cases and not Situations, and that victims should be strictly tied to only presenting views and concerns, and no more.
Keywords: Victim Participation, International Criminal Court, Defendants' Rights, Fair Trial, International Criminal Law, Victims' Rights, Victims, ICC, Evidence, Rules of Procedure and Evidence
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