REDRESS and Victims Rights Working Group celebrate International Justice Day 17 July 2010 statement
REDRESS and Victims Rights Working Group (VRWG) members across the world are celebrating International Justice Day this 17 July, commemorating the adoption of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998.
The ICC is important to victims as the first permanent and independent international justice institution tasked with ending impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. International Justice Day serves as a reminder of the urgency for all States to support the Rome Statute, and implement those provisions that relate to victims and witnesses.
This year International Justice Day follows the recent closure of the ICC Review Conference, held in Kampala from 31 May to 11 June 2010. Participating States adopted a positive resolution on the impact of the ICC on victims and affected communities. The Rome Statute signifies a major breakthrough in the recognition of the role of victims within the international justice system and the Kampala Review Conference placed discussion of the ICC’s mandate towards victims at the heart of its agenda.
Victims have legal standing before the ICC as independent legal parties and have made a significant contribution to current trials. Almost 450 victims are participating in the Democratic Republic of Congo cases alone, enriching the justice process by their knowledge and understanding of local customs the conflicts in question.
Voicing views and concerns, telling their own stories to complement the prosecutor’s case and claiming reparation has meant a glimmer of recognition and hope for affected communities, which is a key aspect to healing.
Whist it is encouraging that states are recognising the centrality of victims’ rights and the potential impact of victim participation in achieving justice, resolutions and declarations are not enough. International Justice Day shows that the world can stands in solidarity with victims to ensure that grave injustices will no longer be tolerated.
However, States need to take concrete action to make this a reality. REDRESS which facilitates the Victims’ Rights Working Group, urges States Parties to the ICC Statute to step up their action on executing arrest warrants. Leaders of the Lords Resistance Army who have disfigured, raped, pillaged and killed, causing the displacement of 1.8 million victims in Northern Uganda, were indicted in 2005 and still remain at large.
Multilateral and bilateral engagement to foster arrests is critical for the credibility of the Court and to ensure that its deterrent potential stands strong.
Note: REDRESS was founded by a British torture survivor in 1992. Since then, it has consistently fought for the rights of torture survivors and their families in the UK and abroad. It takes legal challenges on behalf of survivors, works to ensure that torturers
are punished and that survivors and their families obtain remedies for their suffering.
REDRESS cooperates with civil society groups around the world to eradicate the practice of torture once and for all and to ensure that survivors can move forward with their lives in dignity. It has intervened in a range of leading torture cases.