Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

ICC/Africa: Jan '07

IWPR article helps Darfuri victims understand the problems they may face if they want to participate in ICC cases.

Lawyers representing victims wishing to take part in International Criminal Court, ICC, proceedings have commended an IWPR article shedding light on serious obstacles to their participation in the scheme.

The lawyers say the report will contribute significantly to debate on the subject and its translation into Arabic will alert victims to problems they may face in the application process.

One of the main objectives of IWPR’s international justice project is to support media in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda and facilitate a flow of well-researched, balanced and analytical features about the International Criminal Court and justice issues.

Members of our team traveled recently to Uganda and the DRC to meet with journalists and share experiences of reporting on war crimes, and the trials of suspects at international tribunals.

Our Africa editor Peter Eichstaedt flew a Sudanese reporter from Khartoum to Kampala, Uganda, escaping the prying eyes of the Sudanese special police, to work on impartial features about the Darfur conflict, and the accountability of the Sudanese government and rebel militias.

We encourage all our trainees to write about justice issues affecting their countries, brainstorming story ideas for articles which then have a chance of being picked up by the domestic and international press.

Our translators and editors are also working hard to promote our stories in Congolese and Sudanese media, with our Arabic team actively forging contacts with the press and liaising with editors and journalists on ideas.

However, two of target countries – the DRC and Sudan – are non-English speaking, so it has been a priority for us to translate as much of our output as possible.

A recent example is our analysis on funding and other problems experienced by lawyers representing victims at the ICC. It was translated into French and into Arabic, as the piece featured interviews with lawyers for victims in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In the piece, lawyers say that victims applying to participate in cases are not receiving the legal support they need to complete their applications.__They say that victims should be given legal aid to help with the long, complicated application process, while the court argues that it lacks resources to give such assistance to large numbers of applicants._

The lawyers told IWPR that our Arabic translations are particularly important for keeping people informed about the ICC.

“With our limited resources, it is increasingly difficult to communicate the decisions of the court and filings of the office of the prosecutor and defence to victims [we represent]. In order to include native Arab speakers into the dialogue regarding victims’ participation at the ICC, it was imperative to translate this article,” said Wanda Akin and Raymond Brown in a statement for IWPR.

They said the story helped shed light on the issue of victim participation at the ICC, saying it explained the intricacies of the application process.

“While it is still too early to gauge how the feature has stimulated debate concerning resources for legal representatives of victims, we are sure that it adds a clearer view to the arguments swirling in NGO circles regarding this issue,” said the lawyers, who added they had forwarded the article to the International Criminal Bar, which represents lawyers working at the ICC.

The website of MONUC – the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo – has also begun republishing our stories, both in English and French, greatly expanding our readership among Francophone civil society groups.