Comment on the Victims Lecture Question: “Assuming that the ICC chooses to retain victim participation in its processes, how can victims’ representation at the ICC be improved and victims’ rights be protected?”
Carla Ferstman made a valuable point in this week's talk about the fact that the victims of the human rights abuses caused by those on trial are not charity, but people with a worthwhile stake in the process who should be guaranteed a voice. The ICC was structured as a combination of a civil and criminal courts, and as such has a responsibility to involve the victims in a meaningful way.
The current protocol for victims is a lengthy and cumbersome application that further complicates an already complicated and lengthy trial process. I believe a valuable alternate to the current system is to use a group application, where victims would apply to testify in the court as a single entity- a village or group, for example-that share a common story. Either a spokesperson could speak for all of them or many could offer testimony. This would drastically decrease the more than 20,000 applications received by the court and help to solve the local intermediary issue of keeping victims informed, because there would only need to be communication between a leader and the ICC rather than many more individuals.
Some argue that the role for victims is not in this international arena, but rather domestic courts or tribunals where reparations can be distributed. However I believe that victims can and should play a powerful role at the ICC because their testimony brings a human face and reality to immense and abstract crimes. If the court can streamline and simplify the system over time, representation for victims will become an invaluable part of the process.
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