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?”
This was definitely one of the guest lectures that I enjoyed the most. Carla Ferstman did a great job advocating for a clearer role and better protection of victims involved in the ICC's hearings. I do agree that the utmost care must be taken to ensure that victims who testify or participate in any other way should not be forced to unnecessarily relive the pain or trauma that they originally suffered. I also agree that victims deserve some type of representation in the courts. I don't however, agree with the notion that it is the ICC's job to deliberate sentencing based on victims' testimonies or to identify/design punishments that "best protect the victims' rights." I think this can be a very hairy matter. Throughout the series we have debated the different needs of specific victim groups and touted the idea that "no two victims are the same." Given the already demanding and serious responsibilities of the court and given the fact that the ICC has yet to prove it can fulfill these primary obligations in an efficient and time-effective matter, I do not believe the ICC should take on any responsibilities to promote victims' rights via sentencing. It is not a core competency of the court. The ICC should use victims' testimonies for one objective - to prove guilt or innocence. After that, the court should step aside and allow some other institution or organization to deliberate the ways to best represent victims while protecting their rights and providing adequate reparations.
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