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SALC policy brief on ICC witnesses and the review of the Rome Statute: The missing link

The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court resolved in December 2019 to establish the Independent Expert Review to identify ways of strengthening the ICC and the Rome Statute system. The ASP mandated the Experts to make “concrete, achievable and actionable” recommendations to improve the entire ICC system. The Experts focused on the following technical issues: governance, judiciary, preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions.

Despite having a short turn-around time, the Experts concluded their consultations and submitted their Final Report to the Bureau of the ASP, the ASP, the Court, and other stakeholders on 30 September 2020 in line with the ASP resolution. The Report contains 384 recommendations which require political will to implement. The Experts accordingly recommended the establishment of a standing working group to follow up on the implementation of recommendations. The Experts further considered issues relating to victim participation; tracing and identification of victims with claims for reparation; and legal representation of victims.

Conspicuously missing from the Experts Report is the issue of witness protection as generally guaranteed under article 68 of the Rome Statute. Nothing in the Experts Report deals with the safe participation of witnesses in ICC proceedings.

The law on the protection of witnesses and a few other issues that can stifle the fight against impunity from the perspective of ICC witnesses are highlighted in this brief.

Download the brief here.

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