accused is a parent; 119 the exception for children to the requirement that individuals testifying
must first perform an oath; 120 the ability of the VWU to “assign . . . a child-support person to
assist a child through all the stages of the proceedings”; 121 the requirements that the VWU be
consulted when special measures are being considered to protect child victims or witnesses; 122
and the appointment of staff that are knowledgeable about issues involving child witnesses and
However, the fact that the ICC has adopted a broad definition of “victim” and has
established protective measures available to address the needs of child victims and witnesses is
not enough if children are not aware of when they will be considered “victims” by the ICC and
what protective measures are available. 124 To this end, it would be prudent for the ICC to provide
a broad, child-friendly public education campaign that allows youth to understand when they can
apply to be heard as witnesses or give testimony in investigations or prosecutions being pursued
by the ICC. An effective public education campaign that informs children of their rights before
the ICC would “be disseminated in child-friendly language and in places where children and their
representatives are—in particular, to children in schools (including as part of the regular
curriculum), hospitals and other institutions, including [institutions] where children may be
In order for such a public education campaign to be effective, a foundation must exist that
allows children the opportunity to not only know that they have the right to be heard by the ICC,
but also allows them to effectively exercise this right. For instance, the ICC must address any
hurdles that may inhibit the ability of children to apply to the Court. At the ICC, “victims have to
make a written application to the Registrar” to even “have an opportunity to present their views
and concerns.” 126 While this procedure is intended to conform to Article 68(3)’s victim criteria, it
has been recognized that:
[With regards to ICC victim applications, t]he relevant population will quite
often not have the level of literacy that is common in the Western, industrialized
countries. On top of that, they quite often are faced with a language barrier and
with a lack of legal knowledge. . . . [Thus,] this kind of admission procedure is
likely to be a bureaucratic threshold which might easily turn out to be an
insurmountable obstacle for a large number of victims who deserve to be treated
in a more sympathetic manner by the [ICC]. 127
These concerns seem particularly applicable to children. If the individuals who are able to apply
for victim status before the ICC do not often have the requisite level of literacy and legal
119 ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence, supra note 63, at R. 75(1).
120 Id. at R. 66(1), (2).
121 Id. at R. 17(3).
122 Id. at R. 88(1).
123 See, e.g., Rome Statute, supra note 59, at art. 42; ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence, supra note 63, at R. 19(f), ( i).
124 See, e.g., Thomas Hommarberg, Making International and Regional Human Rights Complaints/Communications Mechanisms
Child-Friendly, in INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN 133, 133 (2008), available at
125 Id. at 134.
126 de Brouwer & Groenhuijsen, supra note 15, at 198. Once this application is made, the Chamber reviews it and makes a decision
regarding what, if any, level of participation the applicant will be afforded. Id.
127 Id. at 198–99. The authors pose important questions with regards to the adequacy of the current application procedure. Specifically,
the authors ask: “Can . . . victims be expected to complete an elaborate ([seventeen] pages) and complicated application form? Does
the availability of Court-annexed personnel or representatives from NGOs to offer assistance in completing the form provide adequate
protection of victims’ interests?” Id. at 199.