Information for victims

Information for victims

On 18 November 2022, Pre-Trial Chamber I issued an Order inviting observations and views and concerns of victims by which it:

  1. invited victims and their legal representatives to submit their views and concerns on the ICC Prosecutor’s Request under Article 18(2) to resume the investigation into the Venezuela I Situation (“Prosecutor’s Request”);

  2. instructed the Victims Participation and Reparations Section of the Registry (“VPRS”) to collect victims’ views and concerns and to transmit them to the Chamber, together with a report, by 21 March 2023 at the latest;

  3. invited Venezuela to provide observations on the Prosecutor Request by 28 February 2023 at the latest; and

  4. instructed the Prosecutor to submit a response, if any, to the observations of Venezuela, within three weeks after the notification of these observations, or by 21 March 2023 at the latest.

What is the status and scope of the ICC Prosecutor’s intended investigation into the Venezuela I Situation? 

On 3 November 2021, the ICC Prosecutor opened the investigation into the Venezuela I Situation further to a referral submitted by a group of States Parties on 27 September 2018. The overall scope of the Venezuela I Situation and of the Prosecutor’s intended investigation encompasses any conduct amounting to crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC that are alleged to have been committed in Venezuela since 12 February 2014. The Prosecutor specifically focuses on crimes against humanity of imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty pursuant to article 7(1)(e); torture pursuant to article 7(1)(f); rape and/or other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity pursuant to article 7(1)(g); and persecution on political grounds against persons held in detention pursuant to article 7(1)(h) allegedly committed by members of the State security forces, civilian authorities and pro-government individuals (so-called colectivos), since at least April 2017.

Who is considered a “victim” before the ICC?

According to rule 85 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the ICC, victims are persons who have suffered harm – to themselves or to their close family members – 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 can victims do now?

  • Victims are  invited to provide their views or concerns related to the Prosecutor Request only (i.e. on whether they believe the ICC Prosecutor should be authorized to resume its investigation in the Venezuela I situation, and importantly, why they believe so);

  • Any views or concerns by victims on the Prosecutor Request to resume its investigation should be provided to the VPRS as soon as possible, as they will be transmitted to the ICC Judges on a rolling basis. The deadline for victims to submit views and concerns is 7 March 2023.The VPRS will submit its final consolidated report on victims’ views and concerns on the Prosecutor’s request on 21 March 2023.

  • At this stage of the proceedings victims do not need to be represented by lawyers. Lawyers who want to assist victims in sharing their views and concerns with the ICC Judges are not entitled to legal aid before the ICC (i.e. they will not be remunerated for their efforts by the ICC). At this stage of the proceedings, the Pre-Trial Chamber has not and will not take a decision on (common) legal representation of victims.

How can victims provide their views and concerns to the ICC Judges?

  • If individuals or organizations have been affected by crimes within the ICC jurisdiction, they can fill in the form for submitting victims’ views on the Prosecutor’s Request, or have a representative do it for them. Victims can choose, in the blue box below, either:

    • The online form: No need to download. The form can be filled in online, a signature box can be ticked (no physical signature is required) and the form can be submitted directly through the ICC website. No attachments need to be submitted. The notification of successful submission is automatic.

    • Alternatively: The flat PDF form: download, print, sign and return the form via postal mail or email (see contact information below)

Online Application Form

English, Español

 
Application Form (PDF)

EnglishEspañol

Application Form (fillable PDF)

EnglishEspañol

 
Application Form guidelines

English, Español

  • Victims who prefer to send their views and concerns through an alternative secure channel, can contact the VPRS at [email protected];

  • Forms can be submitted by individual victims or by groups of victims (i.e.  families; groups of women; groups of detainees). It is important to fill in only one form per victim or per group of victims, in order to avoid duplication;

  • Victims’ views and concerns may be submitted in other formats, e.g. video and audio. However, it is important that they contain the information requested in the template form. Victims should be concise and, to the extent possible, ensure that the duration of the audio or video recording is less than 10 minutes;

  • Before completing the form, victims are asked to read carefully the detailed  guidelines on how to fill in the template form, available in English and Spanish in the blue box below.

  • The ICC’s working languages are English and French. There is limited capacity to translate documents from Spanish to English or French. Therefore, victims who are able to fill in the form in English or French are encouraged to do so to avoid any translation delays. Those victims choosing to use audio or video, should use English or French if possible, or may want to include consecutive translation or subtitles into the working languages of the Court. This will considerably reduce the time taken to process the information submitted by victims.

  • VPRS is part of the Registry of the ICC, which is a neutral organ separate from the Office of the Prosecutor, the Defence or the Judges. Also, VPRS is a different section than the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV). VPRS is not representing victims in legal proceedings; VPRS has been mandated by the Pre-Trial Chamber to collect the views and concerns of the victims on a potential resumption of the Prosecutor’s investigation in Venezuela and send them to the Judges.

  • Providing views and concerns to the ICC Judges is not the same as testifying or giving evidence as a witness. The views and concerns of victims are not considered evidence in proceedings and victims to not need to prove the harm suffered and they are not requested to present any evidence/information on the alleges crimes themselves (i.e. victims do not need to send to the VPRS medical, financial or other type of documents showing the extent of the crimes and harm).

  • The ICC manages its interactions with victims in a manner aimed at limiting any risk to victims and to others, and handles information received from victims in a strictly confidential manner. This means, for example, that the VPRS registers the information provided in a secure database to which only authorised staff of the Court have access. The victim forms will only be transmitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber; no other entity will be given access to the forms; the Government of Venezuela will not have access to the victims’ forms.

  • The security of victims and those assisting them comes first. Victims should not take any risks and they should not mention publicly their interaction with the Court as confidentiality and discretion are the best way to protect them at this stage of proceedings.

Victims can contact the VPRS to provide their views or to ask any questions or seek any assistance on this process, at [email protected].

GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE ICC

The Court’s Structure

The Court is composed of four organs: (i) the Presidency; (ii) Chambers (Appeals Division, Trial Division, Pre-Trial Division); (iii) the Office of the Prosecutor; and (iv) the Registry. The Office of the Prosecutor acts independently as a separate organ. The Registry is composed of many sections, including the Victims Participation and Reparation Section, the Office of Public Counsel for victims and the Victims and Witnesses Unit.

The Court’s Jurisdiction

The general mission of the ICC is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. The Court is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the ICC aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.

The ICC does not prosecute States, Governments or political parties. It can only investigate and prosecute natural persons of 18 years of age or above. Its mandate is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals for their alleged individual criminal responsibility for mass crimes which fall under the ICC jurisdiction.

The Principle of Complementarity

The principle of complementarity is one of the main pillars for the Court’s operation. If a State which has jurisdiction over the situation/case investigates, prosecutes and tries the same person for substantially the same conduct, then the ICC shall defer to the domestic judicial authorities, provided that the State is not unwilling and/or unable to genuinely carry out the proceedings.

Cooperation

The Court does not have police or executive forces who implement the Court’s decisions and orders (such as a warrant of arrest). The ICC is dependent on the States Parties to cooperate fully with the Court. The Court may also invite any State not party to the Rome Statute to provide assistance to the Court. 

For further general information on the structure and functioning of the Court, as well as on the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC please click here.