Members of the VRWG express a range of views on the meaning and impact of “interests of victims” as it relates to Article 53 of the Rome Statute, however, there is agreement that this matter requires special attention. It is recognised that whilst it is beneficial to ensure that the voices of victims are heard in order to come to any conclusion about the “interests of victims” in any particular case, obtaining a real understanding of the views and concerns of victims is a complex process, owing to the fact that often the most marginalized victims have the least access to debates about such issues and the voices of certain victims would not necessarily reflect the totality of victims’ concerns. This is because “victims” as such are not a homogenous group and will generally have a variety of views and perspectives.
In addressing “the interest of victims”, the following issues of concern are emphasized:
(i) ways must be found to ensure that the most dominant voices do not overshadow more marginalised voices;
(ii) recognition must be made of the fact that victims’ perspectives and interests do not necessary or usually remain constant or unchanged: their views and perspectives will change with time, and this relates both to the immediate economic and security needs and more longer reparative needs;
(iii) dialogue on the “interests of victims” at the local ‘situation’ level must continue to be fostered;
(iv) prevention and deterrence as a key goal of the Court as it relates to the ‘interests of victims’ should figure more prominently in the Court’s strategic plan.
A child suffering from sleeping sickness being injected with arsenic, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), May 2006. It is estimated that about 1,000 people die every day in DRC. Many of the death are caused by disease and malnutrition in a society destroyed by years of civil war.
© Hugo Rami/IRIN