Victims are those who have suffered harm as a result of the commission of any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.
Victims may include individual people, but also organizations or institutions that have sustained direct harm to any of their property which is dedicated to religion, education, art or science or charitable purposes, and to their historic monuments, hospitals and other places and objects for humanitarian purposes. See Rules of Procedure and Evidence, rules 85 and 86.
Relevant Court staff are trained to work with victims and address their specific needs, particularly children, elderly persons, persons with disabilities and victims of sexual or gender violence.
Representations of victims pursuant to article 15(3) of the Rome Statute – Afghanistan
As per the ICC's legal framework, victims have a right to send communications to the Pre-Trial Chamber when the Prosecutor has requested the latter to open an investigation
proprio motu pursuant to article 15(3) of the Rome Statute. Victims of alleged crimes committed in the relevant situation have the right to submit "representations", i.e. to provide their views, concerns and expectations, to the ICC Judges that are considering the Prosecutor's request. The Victims Participation and Reparations Section ("VPRS") of the ICC Registry facilitates this process.
On 20 November 2017, the Prosecutor of the ICC
requested authorisation from Pre-Trial Chamber III to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the armed conflict in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as regarding similar crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan and are sufficiently linked to the Situation and were committed on the territory of other States Parties to the Rome Statute since 1 July 2002 ("Situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan"). The Prosecutor issued a Public Notice
on the same date.
Please find relevant representation forms for victims and victim groups, as well as guidelines on how to fill in these forms and other important information
Questions and Answers
What can victims do now?
Victims can make their views heard to the ICC Judges. Deadline: 31 January 2018.
The ICC Office of the Prosecutor has requested authorisation from the Judges to investigate crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period since 1 May 2003, as well as other alleged crimes (i.e., those that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan and are sufficiently linked to the Situation in Afghanistan and were committed on the territory of other States Parties to the Rome Statute since 1 July 2002):
crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, persecution on political and gender grounds, intentionally directing attacks against civilian population, humanitarian personnel and/or protected objects, conscription or enlistment and/or use in hostilities of children under the age of 15, and killing and wounding treacherously a combatant adversary by
the Taliban and affiliated armed groups;
war crimes, including torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and sexual violence by
Afghan National Security Forces, and
war crimes, including torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and other forms of sexual violence by
US armed forces and members of the CIA on the territories of Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania.
Victims can now tell the ICC Judges whether or not they want an ICC investigation, or submit other related views. This is called “victims’ representations”. Victims’ representations will help the Judges decide whether or not to authorise the investigation. The Judges will be able to understand any possible concerns about the scope of the investigation as outlined in the Prosecutor’s request. Victims do not need to prove that a crime was committed, they only have to explain what harm happened to them.
How can victims provide their views and concerns to the ICC Judges?
If you have been affected by crimes within ICC jurisdiction, please fill out the representation form for submitting victims’ views, or have a representative do it for you. Choose either:
Online version: No need to download. Fill in the form online, tick the signature box (no physical signature required) and submit directly through the ICC website. No attachments can be submitted. The notification of successful submission is automatic.
Alternatively: PDF version; download, print, sign and return the representation form via mail or email (see contact information below). Attachments are allowed but not required (for example, copies of forensic, medical, police or court records, photographs, films, etc). To get a confirmation of receipt, please request it in your letter/email.
You can attach as many files as needed to an email. However, please bear in mind that the combined maximum size of all attached files cannot exceed 5MB. It is advised that you scan your documents in black and white or greyscale as this will reduce the file size (compared to a colour scan). Please note that an email with attachments which exceed a total of 5MB will not reach us.
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When you fill in the representation form:
- If possible, try to fill in the form in English.
- Answer all questions as best as you can, stating “not applicable” or “unknown” if needed.
- Be concise and aware of the space limitations of the form.
- If you are under 18, have a representative fill in the form for you.
All persons affected by the crimes identified by the Prosecutor are welcome to fill in the form, regardless of their gender, race, religion, ethnicity or other.
Submitting the form is free of charge.
Individual victims or a
group of victims can submit a form. Please make sure to fill in
only one form per victim or per group of victims.
Representations on behalf of groups of victims
If you are a representative filling in the representation form for a group of victims, please include the number of victims, their nationalities and ethnic groups, gender, ages, languages spoken, places of origin and current place of residence. To avoid security risks, you are advised not to include their names or signatures, but you must confirm that all victims have given consent to you filling in the form for them.
You can include your own signature.
The security of victims comes first. Please take preventive measures and avoid mentioning your involvement with the ICC. Please also avoid anything that would expose you and put you or other people at risk.
What happens with your representation form?
The documents that are received from victims will be sent to the ICC Judges only. They are also stored in a secure database accessed only by authorised ICC staff. The Judges can decide whether or not to share this information with the ICC Prosecutor. The ICC will prepare a report on the views and concerns of victims; the original, complete report will be sent to the Judges, and a redacted version will be made public, so that
no identifying information is disclosed to the public.
Will the Court contact victims who submit these forms?
Most probably not individually. The ICC Judges will consider the victims’ views and concerns and they will make their decision whether or not to authorise an investigation based on what victims submitted to them, alongside the Prosecutor’s request. The Registry will keep the victims informed as to whether or not the Judges authorise the investigation, through the media and via those individuals who assisted victims in submitting their forms.
What can victims do later?
At a later stage, if the Chamber authorises the investigation, victims can apply:
- to participate in judicial proceedings against one or more individuals by giving their views and concerns through a legal representative and
- for reparations, if the judicial proceedings lead to the conviction of the accused person(s).
Victims who submitted representation forms are NOT automatically going to be able to participate in potential future judicial proceedings. They will need to apply separately for such presentation at a later stage.
Who is considered a “victim” before the ICC?
Victims are persons who have suffered harm – to themselves or to their close family – as a result of any crime within the ICC’s jurisdiction. This harm can include physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of fundamental rights.
Victims may also include organisations and institutions when their property dedicated to certain purposes (religion, education, art or science or charitable and humanitarian purposes, or historic monuments and hospitals) is harmed as a result of a crime in the ICC’s jurisdiction.
What type of harm will the ICC Judges consider?
The ICC Judges are likely to consider as harm not only physical harm to a person’s body, but also emotional suffering and material loss.
What are crimes against humanity?
“Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment; torture; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds; enforced disappearance of persons; the crime of apartheid; other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.
What are war crimes?
“War crimes” include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict and in conflicts not of an international character listed in the Rome Statute, when they are committed as part of a plan or policy or on a large scale. These prohibited acts include: murder; mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; taking of hostages; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population; intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historical monuments or hospitals; pillaging; rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy or any other form of sexual violence; conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities.
To submit paper copies of representation forms or for any questions, please contact:
Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS)
International Criminal Court
P.O. Box 19519, 2500 CM, The Hague, The Netherlands
Victims do not have to travel to the seat of the Court and their lawyer ensures that at all stages of the proceedings, their views and concerns are heard on matters where their personal interests are affected.
Such participation is voluntary and victims have to fill-in a written application which will be considered by the Court. From this very moment, the identities of victims are protected in the proceedings by a pseudonym attributed to them by the Court (for example: a/0001/18) and their names consequently do not appear in the public domain.
The timing and manner of the victims' participation are determined by the Judges depending on the stage of the proceedings. Victims' lawyers may be notified of submissions made in the relevant case, may attend hearings and make oral submissions, may file written submissions, or be allowed to question witnesses.
The set of rights developed by the Court enables victims, through their lawyers, to express an opinion independently of the Prosecution or the Defence. The various Chambers of the Court have notably recognised that victims' participation assists them in uncovering the truth.
Within the Court, the Office of Public Counsel for the Victims (OPCV) provides legal representation to victims throughout proceedings, as well as assistance and support to external lawyers appointed by victims. The OPCV is an independent office and falls within the Registry solely for administrative purposes. This independence is a prerequisite for carrying out the mandate of assisting and representing legal representatives of victims and victims. Such independence allows the Office to work without being subjected to pressure of any kind and preserves the privileged relationship between victims and their lawyers. The Office has also an important role in enhancing the rights of victims in the proceedings, advocating at different levels and participating in specialised meetings with subsidiary bodies of the Assembly of States Parties and NGOs. For more information, please write at OPCV@icc-cpi.int
Learn how to
apply to participate in proceedings as a victim or assist someone in applying to participate.
An example Application Form for Victim's Participation can be found
This form may not be the one in use in some proceedings. To enquire about the applicable form for specific proceedings, please contact the Victims Participation and Reparations Section of the ICC.
Victims Participation and Reparations Section
International Criminal Court
Po Box 19519
2500 CM, The Hague
Contact telephone number: +31(0)70 515 95 55
Learn more about
representing victims before the ICC as a lawyer, and get more information for
Distinct from participation in Court proceedings, victims can seek reparation for the harm that they have suffered.
At the end of a trial, if there is a conviction, the Trial Chamber may order a convicted person to pay reparations to the victims of the crimes of which the person was found guilty. The Court may order such reparations to be paid through the
Trust Fund for Victims.
The Court may award reparations on an individual and/or collective basis, whichever is, in its view, the most appropriate for the victims in the particular case. The ICC thus not only seeks to bring criminals to justice but also to help the victims themselves rebuild their lives.
Collective and/or individual reparations may include monetary compensation, return of property, rehabilitation, medical support, victims' services centres, or symbolic measures such as apologies or memorials.
At this stage of the proceedings, victims are also represented by a lawyer who will be in a position to present relevant information to the Chamber on behalf of his or her clients.
To learn how to apply for reparation as a victim or assist someone in applying to for reparation, contact
Assistance to victims
Separate from reparations, which can only be delivered after a defendant has been convicted, the Rome Statute allows for assistance to victims through the
Trust Fund for Victims, following a decision by an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber.
Submitting communications to the Office of the Prosecutor
International Criminal Court Bar Association
International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) is an independent, professional association representing the interests of Counsel and legal Support Staff who represent victims, defendants and other actors (such as witnesses) before the ICC. The ICCBA serves as a collective voice for its membership, and provides them a range of support and services, as well as acting as a forum for discussion on all matters pertaining to the Court. The ICCBA's operations are primarily funded by the subscriptions paid by its members, and it is governed by an elected President (currently Karim A.A. Khan QC) and Executive Council, with eight elected standing committees responsible for specific issues and activities.