The Victims’ Court? An Analysis of the Participation of Victims of Sexual Violence in International Criminal Proceedings
Keywords:INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW, THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, SEXUAL VIOLENCE
The inclusion of a victim participation scheme within the framework of the ICC is revolutionary under the domain of International Criminal Law. The scheme grants unprecedented rights for victims to participate in proceedings outside of witness capacity, as provided for at the ad hoc tribunals. This article aims to critically evaluate the ICC’s victim participation scheme for victims of sexual violence. It will do so by investigating the participation scheme to establish whether it embodies inherent limits, and, if so, to assess the impact of these limitations on victims of sexual violence.
While the inclusion of a participation scheme for victims is commendable, this paper finds that there is still a long way to go before victims of sexual violence have access to a form of participation that is meaningful, in that it encompasses the participation envisaged in the provisions of the Rome Statute and considers victims’ needs and expectations. This article argues that several institutional and procedural changes are required before victims of sexual violence are adequately served by the participation scheme. Lessons learnt from practice include the need for a harmonised participation procedure, providing victims of sexual violence with an influence on the charges brought against an accused, assigning collective legal representation based on crimes suffered, and encouraging resource allocation into investigating sexual crimes and non-judicial programmes that will benefit victims of sexual violence that are unable to access participatory and reparatory rights.
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