Information for victims
On 5 March 2020, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court ("Court" and "ICC") authorised the ICC Prosecutor to commence an investigation into alleged crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court (“Afghanistan Appeals Judgment”) in relation to the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (“Afghanistan” and “Afghanistan Situation”).
On 26 March 2020, the Government of Afghanistan sought a deferral of the Prosecutor's investigation in the Afghanistan Situation.
On 27 September 2021, the Prosecutor requested II Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC II) to authorize the resumption of an investigation in the Afghanistan Situation pursuant to Article 18(2) of the Rome Statute.
On 31 October 2022, PTC II authorised the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to resume the investigation into the Afghanistan Situation (“Article 18(2) Decision”).
On 22 November 2022, the OTP filed its appeal brief against the Article 18(2) Decision. The OTP appealed paragraph 59 of the Article 18(2) Decision which authorised the resumption of the Court’s investigation in Afghanistan only with respect to “the crimes [and parties] falling within the situation and the conflict, as it existed at the time of the decision authorising the investigation and based on the request to open it”. The OTP requested the Appeals Chamber to correct the alleged errors identified, reverse and amend paragraph 59 of the Decision and confirm the scope of the Court’s jurisdiction in this situation in the terms previously articulated by the Appeals Chamber in the Afghanistan Appeal Judgment.
On 4 April 2023, the Appeals Chamber issued its decision on the OTP appeal and it amended the Article 18(2) Decision to align it with the scope of the Prosecutor’s investigation in the Afghanistan situation “in relation to alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period since 1 May 2003, as well as other alleged 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 in the period since 1 July 2002”, as previously determined by the Appeals Chamber in the Afghanistan Appeals Judgment.
What is the scope of the investigation into the Afghanistan Situation?
The Appeals Chamber confirmed that the ICC Prosecutor is authorized to investigate all crimes falling under the ICC jurisdiction alleged to have been committed on the territory of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, 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.
Victims’ participatory rights and communication with the Court
The ICC is the first permanent international criminal court which envisages an active role for victims in judicial proceedings. Victims can address the Court already during an investigation by the Prosecutor, in terms of their rights to participate in potential future judicial proceedings, and to receive reparations in case of a conviction.
At the investigation stage, victims can communicate with the Court in a number of ways:
Any individual, group or State can send information to the Office of the Prosecutor regarding any alleged crimes in the Afghanistan Situation falling under the jurisdiction of the Court. Persons with such information, including affected communities of the situation, can communicate to the Office of the Prosecutor any relevant information for the purposes of the investigation on the following dedicated portal: https://otplink.icc-cpi.int/.
Victims who suffered harm as a result of alleged 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 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, may also reach out to the Court with a view to being recognized as victims for the purposes of participation in potential future criminal proceedings against one or more suspects.
For more information relating to these rights before the ICC, victims can contact the Victims Participation and Reparations Section ("VPRS") - the section within the ICC Registry responsible for assisting victims in the process of applying for participation in judicial proceedings, and reparations in case of a conviction, at [email protected].
In particular, victims can fill in and submit to the ICC Registry application forms to participate in potential future proceedings. The Registry will receive these forms – or victims’ applications in any other format they wish to submit – and keep them safely on file for potential future judicial proceedings addressing the harm reported by the victims.
Please note that before filling in a victim application form, it is advised that you contact the VPRS so that you can be provided with information and advice as to what participation in ICC proceedings generally entails, and what this means at the current stage of the process as well as potential future stages. In addition, the VPRS provides training and advice as to how to fill in the form correctly (see also the written Guidelines below), which is very important in order for victims' expectations to be met with adequate Registry advice. Please note that any forms received at the investigation stage are generally not yet transmitted to a Pre-Trial Chamber absent any judicial proceedings relating to one or more cases.
Victim application forms for use at the investigation stage can be found on the ICC’s general victim page under the heading ‘Participation’ (underneath the case-specific blue boxes), alongside said Guidelines. Relevant links are also provided hereunder for ease of reference. Currently, all relevant documentation is accessible in English, whilst some documents are also available in Pashto, Dari and Arabic.
Victims’ safety and security
Please note that the security of victims is crucial. It is important to take preventive measures such as avoiding mentioning their involvement with the ICC to others/publicly. It is also important to avoid anything that could expose victims and put them or other people at risk, e.g. talking to the media, posting on social media, etc. about their contacts with the ICC.
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.
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.