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Victims Trust Fund Convenes At ICC


High-Level Board of Directors of the Victims Trust Fund Convenes at the International Criminal Court for First Meeting

For the first time ever, a Trust Fund for Victims has been established as an integral part of an international criminal tribunal to help to address the suffering of victims of the worst crimes. The Trust Fund forms an essential part of the Court's innovative mandate towards victims, and is an acknowledgment that justice for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes cannot be met by retribution alone. Board members met this week at the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands, to begin developing criteria that will guide the operations of this new initiative.

The establishment of the Victims Trust Fund was provided for in the treaty creating the ICC as part of a series of unprecedented steps to fully acknowledge the rights and needs of victims. In particular, the Statute allows for victims' active participation in the criminal justice process and enables them to claim reparations from perpetrators. The Trust Fund complements these efforts, and its activities and projects will provide concrete means by which victims' broader needs may be addressed.

"The Victims Trust Fund is a historic effort to widen the scope of justice to not only punish perpetrators, but also to restore dignity to victims," said William Pace, convenor of the NGO Coalition for the ICC, a global advocacy group. "The International Criminal Court recognizes that victims need to be treated as more than silent partners, but instead as active participants in the justice and healing process," he said. "The moral authority and integrity of the Fund's first Board is a reflection of the historic importance of this effort," he added.

The members of the Board, who represent the five UN regional groups, are: Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan; His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa; His Excellency Mr. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former Prime Minister of Poland; His Excellency Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, former President of Costa Rica; and Madame Minister Simone Veil, former Minister of Health of France and former President of the European Parliament.

Voluntary contributions from individuals, organizations, corporations, governments and other sources will constitute a portion of the resources of the Trust Fund, which will also include money and other property collected through fines and forfeitures imposed by the ICC. Funds could be allocated for expenses such as medical costs, school fees for orphans or reconciliation projects for communities, or be directed to non-governmental organizations and other groups for projects that will directly assist victims and their families. The Trust Fund will be guided by a strict set of criteria to be determined by the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC.

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Note to the Editor: For more information about the Trust Fund for Victims, please visit:

… The web site of the Coalition for the ICC: http://www.iccnow.org/buildingthecourtnew/victims&witnesses.html … The web site of the ICC: http://www.icc-cpi.int … The web site of the Campaign for the Victims Trust Fund: http://www.victimstrustfund.org/

To make a donation to the Victims Trust Fund: Contributions in US dollars may be made to: ICC Victims Trust Fund, JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York, USA, Account Number: 400932776, ABA Routing Number: 0002, Swift Code: CHASUS33, Fed Wire Number: 021000021. Contributions in Euro may be made to: ICC Victims Trust Fund, Fortis Bank, The Hague, The Netherlands, Account Number: 240005201, IBAN Number: NL39FTSB0240005201, Swift Code: FTSBNL2R..

A brief and unofficial biography of the members of the Board follows:

Former Costa Rican President, Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the cycle of violence in Central America. Dr. Arias Sánchez earned a doctorate in political science at the University of Essex and, following the adoption of what is widely regarded as the "Arias Peace Plan," earned some fifty honorary doctorate degrees. He is the author of several books about peace and politics, and founded the Foundation for Peace and Human Progress with the monetary award from the Nobel Prize.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa gained international prominence in 1984 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward "a democratic and just society without racial divisions." He continued his work to facilitate South Africa's transition from Apartheid as Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He holds numerous honorary doctorates at leading universities in the United States, Britain and Germany.

Former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki was the first post-Communist leader in Eastern Europe. He subsequently served as a UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia. Following the massacres of Srebrenica and Zepa, territories designated as "safe havens," Mr. Mazowiecki resigned from that post. He has held numerous positions within the government of Poland and served in the Polish parliament.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah is a human rights campaigner and the wife of His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan. Following the births of their three children, Her Majesty Queen Rania launched numerous initiatives to further access to education, technology and micro-credit financing in Jordan. Among other projects, she has also launched the Child Abuse Prevention Project to protect children at risk of abuse and modify public attitudes towards violence against children.

Madame Minister Simone Veil, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, rose to prominence through positions with the French Ministry of Justice and as Minister of Health. She is widely recognized as a campaigner for women's and children's rights. She was elected the first president of the European Parliament in 1984, and also served as the President of the Judicial Group for the European Parliament. She holds numerous honorary degrees and decorations for her work.

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Burkina Faso Ratifies the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Becoming 93rd ICC State Party

(New York, April 21, 2004) - The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Coalition) today welcomed Burkina Faso's ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as a demonstration of that country's commitment to ending impunity and providing justice for victims. Burkina Faso deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute at the United Nations on Friday, April 16, becoming the 93rd State Party to the ICC and the 23rd country in Africa to accept the Court's jurisdiction.

"West Africa is home to many violent conflicts and a high level of impunity," said Mr. Francis Dako, the Coalition's coordinator for Francophone Africa. "The government of Burkina Faso has taken a courageous step towards ending impunity and bringing peace to West Africa by ratifying the Rome Statute. We encourage other countries in the region who have yet to ratify to follow Burkina Faso's lead," he said. By ratifying the Rome Statute, Burkina Faso recognizes the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) over any acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"As a human rights activist, I am extremely proud of my country's ratification of the Rome Statute, which we wish to be universal," said Mrs. Salamata Sawadogo, president of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and ambassador of Burkina Faso to Senegal. "I congratulate the authorities in Burkina Faso for this important step. Working towards the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court in Africa has been a priority for the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights, over which I have the honor to preside. This is a real challenge for our continent," she added.

The Rome Statute recognizes that national justice systems bear primary responsibility for prosecuting these grave crimes. "Burkina Faso should now review its internal law to ensure that all Rome Statute crimes are codified and so that national authorities can effectively cooperate with the Court," said Dako. "If not the promise made by the government will be hollow."

The International Criminal Court has announced that two states - Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - have requested the Court to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in their respective territories. The Court has not yet launched formal investigations.

Today at the ICC's headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, the five-member Board of Directors of the Victims Trust Fund, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, is meeting to discuss the important role the Fund can play in providing reparations to victims of crimes under the Rome Statute.

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Note to the Editor: The following resources are available online:

Democratic Republic of Congo Requests ICC Investigations (CICC Media Advisory) http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/ciccmediastatements/2004/04292004DRCReferralWEB.pdf

Burkina Faso (CICC Country Information Section) http://www.iccnow.org/countryinfo/africa/burkinafaso.html

Web site of the International Criminal Court http://www.icc-cpi.int

About the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) The CICC is a global network of over 2,000 civil society organizations supporting a fair, effective and independent International Criminal Court. For more information, visit us online at http://www.iccnow.org

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