One of the major innovations of the ICC statue is the ability of victims to participate in proceedings, not only as prosecution witnesses but also as independent parties with an interest in the outcome (see article 68(3) of the Rome Statue and Section III of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence). In October 2006, the Prosecutor indicated that he did not object to Prosecution witnesses also participating as independent participants, thereby having a dual status before the Court [Prosecutor’s observations].
On 17 January 2006, the Court ruled that victims could participate in cases as well as in the general investigation or ‘situation phase’. Victims can apply to participate by using a form and transmitting it to the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS) of the Court.
According to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the criteria to qualify as a victim are that :
In order to participate in the situation (this is the investigation phase of the case as opposed to the phase which comes after particular individuals are identified formally by the Prosecution, e.g. the “DRC Situation”), the victim, the immediate family or the dependents of the direct victim, must provide sufficient evidence to show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the victim suffered harm as a direct result of the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. These are genocide (article 6), crimes against humanity (article 7) and war crimes (article 8).
In order to participate in a case (This is once an individual has been formally identified by the Prosecution) at the Pre-Trial phase, the victim, the immediate family or the dependents of the direct victim, must provide sufficient evidence to show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the victim suffered harm directly linked to the crimes set out in the warrant of arrest, or that he or she suffered harm in intervening to assist direct victims in the case, or to prevent their victimisation as a result of the commission of these crimes (threshold established in the context of the Lubanga case).
In addition to showing that the victim has suffered harm, in order to be granted the status of participant in a case, it must be shown that:
1. There is a personal interest of the victim to intervene in the proceedings,
2. There is no threat to the rights of the accused and to a fair and impartial trial, and
3. Opportunities shall be provided at appropriate stages of the proceedings for the views and concerns of the victim to be presented and considered.
Victims can apply to participate by using a form and transmitting it to the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS) of the Court.
People queue up to vote in the country’s first multiparty general election since 1960, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 30 July 2006. Should no single presidential candidate secure more than 25 per cent of the vote, there will be a second round of voting a few weeks after the first-round results have been announced.
© Tiggy Ridley/IRIN