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?”
First, let me say how refreshing it was to hear a perspective that centered on the rights and needs of the victims of these heinous crimes. The second line of the preamble to the Rome Statute states that signatories are "Mindful that during this century millions of children, women and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity" yet until now we have not really considered their position. I believe it is absolutely critical that the ICC retains -- and improves -- victim participation. Perhaps one way to do this is to take better advantage of available technologies to broadcast hearings and allow the citizens of places where mass atrocities have occurred to participate virtually. Though costly, I imagine this would be more economical than flying dozens of people to the Hague. As Ms. Ferstman mentioned, it is important for victims to feel their voice has been heard and their position considered. This notion was explored by some civic groups who hosted a mock international tribunal to determine suitable punishment for Japanese soldiers who had sex with comfort women during World War II. For the women, it was said to be extremely cathartic, even though they knew it was not a real or binding judicial process. That said, I think victim participation is key. I also liked Ms. Ferstman's suggestion of a two-tier application process in the hopes of effectively dealing with the increases number of petitions and allowing for division of individual and group complaints. This is a big challenge now to the European Court, which has been its applications rise more than 10 fold in recent years.
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