Coalition for the International Criminal Court
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Victims and Witness Background
Victims and Witness Background
Four residents of the Ngomorroreo camp for internally displaced persons, located near the Sudanese border in Northern Uganda, were attacked and mutilated by the LRA. The ICC foresees for such victims and witnesses to participate in proceedings, be protected from perpetrators, and apply for reparations. Credit: Thomas W. Morley / Exile Images.
When the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted in 1998, the prospect of ending impunity was not the sole concern of the States and non-governmental organizations negotiating the treaty. Of equal importance were concerns about victims and witnesses. As a result, several provisions within the Statute relate to the rights and protections afforded to victims and witnesses, and in addition the treaty established the Victims and Witnesses Unit under Article 43 (6).

Article 68 of the Statute addresses the protection of victims and their participation in the proceedings, while article 75 contains the most important provisions on the victims’ right to reparations. Article 79 establishes the first Trust Fund in the history of international jurisdictions for the benefit of victims of crimes. These and other norms of the Statute are specified and implemented in numerous provisions of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) was set up to provide protective measures and security arrangements, counseling and other appropriate assistance to victims and witnesses and others who are at risk because of testifying. The VWU also provides training for the staff of the Court on issues specifically relating to victims and witnesses, such as trauma, sexual violence, security and confidentiality. In addition to the protection and support officers the Unit has in The Hague, it also has staff in the field offices that are able to intervene at very early stages and ensure the safety of victims and witnesses. Moreover, the VWU works closely with different sections and units of the OTP, including the Gender and Children Unit, so as to coordinate as efficiently as possible the work of the different ICC organs.