Key features of trial’s in International Criminal Court


ICC judges  conduct judicial proceedings and ensure the fairness of proceedings.



The Office of the Prosecutor is an independent organ of the Court. The Prosecutor conducts preliminary examinations, investigations and is the only one who can bring cases before the Court.


The International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) is an independent, professional association representing the interests of Counsel and legal Support Staff who represent victims, defendants and other actors (such as witnesses) before the ICC.


Office of the Prosecutor

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is an independent organ of the Court. It is responsible for examining situations under the jurisdiction of the Court where genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression appear to have been committed, and carrying out investigations and prosecutions against the individuals who are allegedly most responsible for those crimes. It is for the first time in history that an international Prosecutor has been given the mandate, by an ever-growing number of States, to independently and impartiality select situations for investigation where atrocity crimes are or have been committed on their territories or by their nationals. Like the judges of the Court, the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor are elected by the ASP for a non-renewable mandate of nine years.



Defendants are entitled to public, fair proceedings that they can follow in a language they fully understand,

Principles of natural justice are followed  eg audi alterum paretm,  presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the Court,  public, fair proceedings conducted impartially and in full equality.

Counsel for the Defence are independent and are not ICC staff.

The Registry provides a number of services to support the work of Defence teams, including facilitating the protection of confidentiality, providing support during the investigations activities conducted in the field, assisting arrested persons, persons interviewed by the Prosecution and the accused to obtain legal advice and the assistance of legal counsel. The Court also facilitates the necessary facilities for the Defence teams to prepare for cases, and other logistical support. The Court’s legal aid system ensures that the reasonable cost of legal representation is paid by the Court for persons who do not have sufficient means to pay for it.


Victims are those who have suffered harm as a result of the commission of any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court

Victims may include individual people, but also organizations or institutions that have sustained direct harm to any of their property which is dedicated to religion, education, art or science or charitable purposes, and to their historic monuments, hospitals and other places and objects for humanitarian purposes.

Victims do not have to travel to the seat of the Court and their lawyer ensures that at all stages of the proceedings, their views and concerns are heard on matters where their personal interests are affected.

The timing and manner of the victims’ participation are determined by the Judges depending on the stage of the proceedings.  the Trial Chamber may order a convicted person to pay reparations to the victims of the crimes of which the person was found guilty The Court may order such reparations to be paid through the Trust Fund for Victims.



There are several types of witnesses who can testify before the Court.

  • Fact witnesses have knowledge and testify about what happened. They can be crimes-based witnesses when they have suffered harm and testify as witnesses about what happened to them. Some of these witnesses can also hold the status of participating victims before the Court; they are called dual-status witnesses.
  • Insider witnesses have a direct connection with the accused.
  • Expert witnesses testify about matters within the field of their expertise, for example, ballistic or forensic experts.
  • Overview witnesses help establish facts about the context in which a conflict occurred, and can include, for example, professors or NGO representatives.


As practical support, witnesses – independently of the party calling them – may receive two types of allowances to compensate for the financial burden related to the testimonies.


Incidental allowance

This covers the costs related to the witness’s personal expenses in the location and for the duration of the testimony while testifying. It is evaluated based on the cost of living in this location.

Attendance allowance

This provides compensation for wages, earnings and time lost as a result of the witnesses’ absence from their place of residence for the purpose of their appearance before the Court.

The Registry is equipped with staff members with expertise in trauma, including trauma related to crimes of sexual violence. The Registry is mandated to advise the Chambers on measures to be taken to facilitate their testimony and to prevent psychological harm resulting from appearing before the Court. Special measures can then be ordered for vulnerable witnesses like children, elderly persons or victims of sexual violence, and/or any other vulnerable witnesses who are at increased risk of psychological harm or who may experience difficulties testifying before the Court.


No matter how far victims might be from the Court, the ICC endeavors to reach out and engage with them and their communities. People most affected by the crimes have the right to understand, to participate in, and to have a sense of ownership of the justice process.

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