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International Criminal Courts - The Role Of Victims

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The Statute is a major advance in international law with respect to the protection of victims, their participation in the proceedings, and their right to reparations. As stated above, the Statute provides for a Victims and Witnesses Unit, with appropriate expertise, to provide protection and support for victims. Article 68 (1) requires the Court to take "appropriate measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of witnesses," taking into account a number of factors, including whether the crime was one of sexual violence or violence against children, but such measures "shall not be prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial." Such measures may include conducting certain hearings in camera or withholding certain evidence prior to the commencement of the trial. Article 15 would permit victims or their families, as other reliable sources, to provide information to the prosecutor that he or she would use to determine whether to open an investigation. Although the Statute does not provide that the victims may be parties civiles, as in certain civil law systems such as France, or institute private prosecutions, as in certain common law systems such as the United Kingdom, Article 68 (3) provides that where their personal interests are affected, the court "shall permit their views and concerns to be presented and considered at stages of the proceedings determined to be appropriate by the Court and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial." Article 75 requires the court to establish principles relating to reparations, including restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation. The court may award reparations against the person convicted and states parties must give effect to the court's decision.

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