Victim Participation in International Criminal Trials. Participation and Recognition of Victims before International Criminal Courts and Tribunals

Third party funded individual grant


Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Christoph Safferling


Contributing FAU Organisations:
Lehrstuhl für Strafrecht, Strafprozessrecht, Internationales Strafrecht und Völkerrecht

Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Sachbeihilfe (EIN-SBH)
Start date: 01/01/2015
End date: 31/01/2019


Abstract (technical / expert description):

The participation of victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression in international criminal trials has received growing attention since the foundation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The participation of victims challenges the classical-liberal concept of criminal procedure and the recognition of the rights of the accused in criminal trials. Likewise the question of which victim qualifies to participate in the prosecution of individual perpetrators bears considerable difficulties and poses the danger of producing injustices on the side of victims and victims' groups by a highly selective process. The ICC and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia furthermore foresee a specific procedure to compensate the victims.The research project first addresses the definition of the victim of international crimes and looks into the criteria relevant for the admission to participate in the criminal trial. The question is, how the fact that only individuals can be prosecuted and the fact that the selection of the accused is a often a political process, can be balanced against the interests of the masses of victims in cases of international crimes. The linking of victim participation with the accused person and the charges brought against this individual leads to the exclusion of a considerable number of victims. Those victims who cannot prove to have been harmed by the accused in the very situation, he has been charged for, will not be invited to participate in the procedure. The research project will address possibilities to widen the definition of the victim and thus propose a more collective approach in order to include more harmed persons on the side of the victims.The project will secondly question the implementation of the participation of victims in the criminal trial itself. The separate stages of the criminal process will be scrutinized to identify those parts of the trial, in which participation of the victim actually make sense. Furthermore the structure of the process will be discussed and which influence victim participation has thereon. A comparative approach is necessary in this regard. Even if the ICC-Statute created an autonomous procedural order in an international compromise, the most influential traditions of criminal procedure, namely the Anglo-American and the Continental European approach, need to be looked at in detail and how they relate to the participation of victims in the criminal process.Thirdly, issue will be taken with compensation of victims for the harm suffered. As before the question of inclusion and exclusion of victims¿ groups need to be looked at and how this is effectuated by the linking of the compensation issue with the criminal trial. The few cases in which the international courts addressed compensation will be analysed. Alternative models of compensation, like the establishing of a foundation or the usage of civil litigation will be discussed.


Last updated on 2019-21-05 at 13:06