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?”
While I personally believe that victims should be heard in the ICC, I question how necessary their participation is to a conviction. As we've discussed, many of those indicted are not necessarily the one's with blood physically on their hands, but the ones responsible for the perpetuation of these crimes. Additionally, although limited, my understanding of ICC proceedings leads me to believe that victims' testimonies provide a human face and real depth and understanding of the horror of what happened to the court, but are not the lynch pin to deciding the case nor even does their testimony provide the necessary evidence make the conviction. As has been mentioned, going through over 20,000 applications from victims to testify at the ICC is costly both with time and with money. If efficiency of the ICC is one of the overarching themes of these discussions, maybe victims' testimonies are actually a hindrance to efficiency.
However, the current question is not addressing this. If victims' representations is continued, it is necessary to improve representation and to better protect victims' rights. Both of these prove to be challenging endeavors. Group representation is a very viable way to ensure more are represented at the ICC and I believe this is a method that should be further pursued and encouraged. However, I do not believe that this should be the sole manner for representation. Individuals should still maintain the right to apply to testify and share their own personal experience.
My concern lies more with treatment of victims, a branch of protecting their rights. Carla Ferstman shared stories of horribly insensitive instances and instances that put the victims in uncomfortable and traumatizing situations in the ICC that never should have occurred. To be honest, I believe these instances were more than just natural human oversight. Putting a child in open view of the man for whom he committed unthinkable acts clearly will be traumatizing for the child. It is absolutely absurd that this would happen within an institution that is supposed to be seeking justice for these victims. Whether it be via sensitivity training or strict monitoring by someone well trained with victims’ rights and needs of the proceedings, ICC proceedings should be a place for the victim to regain some sense of power and strength, not to traumatize them.
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