On 3 November 2018, The Guernica Group, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) of the International Criminal Court, the Working Group on Transitional Justice of the Latin American Society of International Law, and Santa Clara School of Law, hosted the First Expert-workshop on “Victims and International Justice” at Santa Clara University.
This workshop brought together a group of leading experts, human rights lawyers and practitioners to discuss the role and participation of victims in different justice mechanisms.
Participating experts included Judge Yassmin Barrios (Guatemala), Carlos Castresana (Spain), Ligia Bolivar (Venezuela), Henry Rivera (Colombia), Alexandra Sandoval (Nicaragua), Naomi Roht-Arriaza (USA), Beth Van Schaack (USA), as well as a delegation from the Trust Fund for Victims, including Motoo Noguchi, Felipe Michelini and Erin Rosenberg, and members of The Guernica Group, Almudena Bernabéu, Toby Cadman and Claudia Josi. The previous day, many of these experts had participated in the Panel Discussion “Victims and International Justice”, held at Santa Clara University (a full recording of the event is available here).
This workshop was aimed at creating an open space to discuss past experiences in International Justice mechanisms of different countries, and jointly reflect on the advances and challenges that they generated. The objective was to exchange the lessons learnt to find, together, tools and avenues to improve victims’ participation in this type of legal procedures.
Throughout the day, participants discussed the importance of and the need for deeper and more professional inclusion and participation of victims in judicial proceedings, and reflected on different ways through which this could be achieved. Aspects discussed included the need for more training, professionalization of the representation of victims in both domestic and international mechanisms, such as the ICC, as well as the need for a better coordination between investigations into “classical” human rights violations, and investigations on corruption and environmental crimes.
Although one day ended up being too short for the many issues to discuss, participants agreed that this had been a very successful and fruitful first meeting and that this type of workshop should be repeated soon.
Through this workshop —and hopefully, future collaboration with the TFV, as well as with other partners— Guernica aspires to contribute to the deepening and professionalization of victims’ participation and representation in international judicial processes. We are confident that, by working together, we will be able to meet their demands and reinforce their leadership and inclusion in justice mechanisms, as a fundamental factor to ensure that accountability realizes its full potential and generates truly transformative effects.