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War Reparations Centre

Legal aid for victims of crimes tried by international criminal tribunals

WRC Project

By Liesbeth Zegveld and Mies Westerveld. One of the objectives of international tribunals is to do justice to the victims. Criminal convictions by these tribunals can form the basis of claims of the victims. Several tribunals rely on national jurisdictions to allow for such claims. The implementation of victims’ claims in domestic jurisdiction states has, however, hardly been considered. These claims reach already a deadlock on the provision of legal aid. This project examines the obstacles in the implementation of these claims.

Catalyst of this project is a ruling of 23 July 2014 by a Dutch court stating that a victim of the Yugoslavia war cannot claim legal aid in a case against a suspect who is on trial at the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague ( Annotation of the ruling). The Netherlands believes that the fact that it hosts the Yugoslavia Tribunal does not mean that this country is also responsible for the legal costs for the victims. This project aims to formulate a solution to this problem to enable victims to obtain justice.