The Forgotten Ones: How the ICC has Failed Victims of Sexual and Gender Based Crimes
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been praised as a “victim’s court” by many in the international legal community. This assertion is largely based upon the fact that one of the main differences between the ICC and its ad hoc predecessor tribunals is the Court’s insistence on justice for victims. Unlike the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) or Rwanda (ICTR), considerable attention has been given to victims within the ICC’s authorizing legislation. The Rome Statute explicitly identifies the need for victim recognition, inclusion and restitution. At the ICTY and ICTR, besides their usefulness as witnesses, victims were an afterthought at best. As a result of the past failures to adequately assist victims, the creators of the Rome Statute were diligent in ensuring that victims would be effectively served by the Court. However, despite this elevated awareness for victims’ justice, the ICC has completely failed to provide any meaningful justice to one of the most vulnerable and underserved sectors: victims of gender-based and sexual crimes. While the office of the Prosecution has laid over twenty charges for sexual and gender-based crimes and has found evidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in over 70% of their cases, not a single individual has ever been convicted at the ICC for crimes of this nature. As a result, few victims of SGBV have received any form of justice at the ICC.