The Role of Victims in Criminal Proceedings


Howard Varney and Katarzyna Zduńczyk

This briefing paper focuses on the role of victims of human rights violations in criminal proceedings. This paper will provide examples of recent developments in the advancement of victim participation in criminal proceedings in international criminal law and domestic jurisdictions. 

Download the briefing paper in English or Arabic.

Article 8 of the Tunisian Transitional Justice Organic Law of 2013 provides for a comprehensive transitional justice framework in Tunisia, including the creation of a justice mechanism—the Specialized Criminal Chambers (SCCs), which is mandated to adjudicate cases of gross human rights violations.

Invariably victims have little or no role to play in criminal justice proceedings, unless they happen to be a witness. In most jurisdictions, particularly in common-law countries, their rights are limited to attending the proceedings and being kept informed of progress. In Tunisia victims must apply to become civil parties if they wish to participate, though it is yet unknown whether victims may approach the SCCs directly. Questions regarding the participation of victims will become particularly relevant following the closure of the Truth and Dignity Commission.

Other briefing papers in this series on transitional justice in Tunisia include:

Legal Frameworks for Specialized Chambers: Comparative Studies for the Tunisian Specialized Criminal Chambers

Transitional Justice in Tunisia: Tension Between the Need for Accountability and Due Process Rights

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