ICC Victims Trust Fund still in limbo

24 July 2006 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

Nearly four years after it was established, with its board of directors up for re-election at the end of 2006, the Victims Trust Fund, and autonomous body of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is still not up and running. In December 2005, the ICC's Assembly of States Parties (ASP) finally adopted the Fund's bylaws and decided to equip it with a secretariat, making it possible for the Fund to begin operating - at least in theory.

Simone Veil, Chair of the Victims Trust Fund board calls the Fund "one of the most innovative features of the ICC." NGOs and human rights activists have passionately supported this institution, fearing that because of the harsh realities of the court, assistance for the many victims would be too little too late. Thus, the Victims Trust Fund aims to provide compensation to a greater number of victims than the number of those who testify in trials. It can also provide assistance more quickly without getting bogged down in criminal procedures, through individual, collective, material or symbolic compensation. At the 2004 ASP, Veil stressed the need to equip the Fund with a streamlined executive structure. Neither Veil nor the four other prestigious members of the Board of Directors will be in charge of running the Fund. In the end, the ASP agreed in December 2005 to set aside money in the 2006 budget to establish a secretariat for the Fund.

Only a " liaison officer "

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