Australia, the Rome Statute and the War Crimes Proceedings: Where are the Victims?

Australia, the Rome Statute and the War Crimes Proceedings: Where are the Victims?

Australia, the Rome Statute and the War Crimes Proceedings: Where are the Victims?

Eva Buzo, the Executive Director of VAI, published a new article on Opinio Juris on 30 June 2020 concerning the rights of victims of war crimes allegedly committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. The Inspector General of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) announced in February 2020 that investigators are looking into 55 incidents of alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers on deployment in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

The publicly available information about these cases indicates that those that proceed to trial will be heard using the piece of legislation that domesticates Australia’s obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), rather than its military disciplinary law. However, while the Australian legislation replicates the bulk of the Rome Statute almost exactly, it does not include its innovative provisions on victim rights and participation. The extent to which victims or their families are able to participate in these cases depends largely on the discretion of the Prosecutor.

The article makes recommendations for what this participation could and should look like. It can be accessed in full here.