26 November 2013
The Hague – On 22 November, as part of the Assembly of States Parties, Avocats Sans Frontières led a side event to promote victim participation in International Criminal Court proceedings. This was a first, as never before has such an event been entirely dedicated to hearing the voices of victims.
The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) has been in full swing in The Hague since 20 November. Responsible for supervising the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ASP gathers representatives of the countries that have ratified the Rome Statute. Avocats Sans Frontières took part in the twelfth session as an NGO observer, actively participating by holding a side event with Redress on victim participation.
“This session was a first for the ICC, as never before has such an event been entirely dedicated to hearing the voices of victims”, said Luc Meissner, ASF’s International Criminal Justice Project Coordinator. The debates focused on the importance of victims being able to take part in court proceedings in a systematic manner, and on their legal representation before the Court. ASF took the opportunity to express its views on the subject and to present a report on this theme.
In front of an audience of around 40 people, including representatives from State Parties, lawyers from the ICC, and international NGOs, ASF emphasised the importance of victims having the freedom to choose their legal representation and facilitating victims’ access to ICC proceedings.
Today, more than 7,500 victims in eighteen cases may take part in rulings before the Court, around 800 of which are due to ASF’s work in the field, most notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Victim participation is a fundamental right set out in the ICC statutes, but implementing this right is a challenge” noted Jean-Philippe Kot, Expert in international criminal justice at ASF (photo). “Indeed, the system provides for individual representation, which is extremely complicated to put in place in cases of mass crimes. ASF is therefore suggesting a ‘hybrid’ solution, allowing communities of victims to be represented while at the same time protecting their individual interests”.
ASF’s International Justice Programme is funded by the European Union and the MacArthur Foundation.