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Article
Victim Participation at the International Criminal Court and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: A Feminist Project
Michigan Journal of Gender and Law
  • Susana SaCouto, American University Washington College of Law
Publication Date
2012
Abstract
The question this Article poses is whether victim participation--one of the most recent developments in international criminal law--has increased the visibility of the actual lived experience of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of war, mass violence, or repression. Under the Rome Statute, victims of the world's most serious crimes were given unprecedented rights to participate in proceedings before the Court. Nearly a decade later, a similar scheme was established to allow victims to participate as civil parties in the proceedings before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC or Extraordinary Chambers), a court created with UN support to prosecute atrocities committed by leaders of the Khmer Rouge during the period of 1975 to 1979. Although there are some significant differences in how the schemes work at the ICC and ECCC, both courts allow victims to participate in criminal proceedings independent of their role as witnesses for either the prosecution or defense. In other words, both have victim participation schemes intended to give victims a voice in the proceedings. Significantly, women's rights activists supported the creation of these victim participation schemes, particularly at the ICC, because, among other things, they thought that doing so might help address the under- or misrepresentation of women's experiences in those situations covered by the Court's jurisdiction. My aim is to explore whether these novel victim participation schemes, as implemented by the ICC and ECCC thus far, have actually allowed for greater recognition of victims' voices and experiences than was possible in proceedings before their predecessor tribunals. Have these schemes actually allowed women to communicate a fuller and more nuanced picture of their experiences than they would have been able to as victim-witnesses before the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals? Have they contributed to a richer understanding of the different and complex ways in which sexual violence and inequality are experienced by women in the context of war, mass violence, or repression? In other words, can the victim participation schemes at the ICC and the Extraordinary Chambers answer the feminist call for increased visibility of the actual lived experience of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of war, mass violence, or repression? Can they, in this sense, be considered "feminist projects"?
Citation Information
Susana SaCouto. "Victim Participation at the International Criminal Court and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: A Feminist Project" (2012) p. 297 - 359
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susana_sacouto/10/