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Victims and the International Criminal Court: Three major issues

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image of International Criminal Law Review

The Statute of the permanent International Criminal Court (the "ICC") agreed to in Rome in 1998 contains many provisions that deal with the specific concerns and rights of victims and survivors of the international crimes that the ICC will have jurisdiction over. It consolidates the work of the two ad hoc international criminal Tribunals (the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda) in this area, but also further enhances the role and rights of victims in a number of innovative ways. These three international criminal Tribunals thus collectively represent an important step forward in the recognition of the suffering and the position of victims and survivors of international crimes. This article will examine three main issues in relation to victims and the ICC. First, after identifying the protective measures for victims allowed at the discretion of the international criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, it will focus on the most controversial measure (which the ICC can also order) - the non-disclosure to the defence of the identity of witnesses. Does this protective measure violate a defendant's right to a fair trial? The Statute of the ICC also allows, for the first time in international criminal justice, for the right of victims to obtain their own legal representation, subject to the discretion of the ICC. The second issue is how is this going to work in practice in light of the fact that international crimes normally involve hundreds, if not thousands or even tens of thousands, of victims? And finally, while the ICC Statute provides for the possibility of reparations to victims, where will the money come from, and thus what are the chances of victims actually being able to receive compensation?


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