The TFV’s humanitarian projects would potentially help a wider group of victims, including those who suffered from the conflict in general rather than the specific crimes the defendants are charged with.
International rights groups have also criticised the TFV for the delay.
“It is late, and it is unfortunate that the Trust Fund has not been able to be active at an earlier point across all of the ICC situations,” Elizabeth Evenson, senior counsel for the international justice programme at the New York-based Human Rights Watch said. “It is important that the Trust Fund continue to expand its ability to deal with more situations simultaneously.”
De Baan made it clear there was no guarantee the TFV would actually fund any projects in Kenya.
“Assessment is needed to determine whether or not the TFV should conduct assistance projects to benefit victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC,” he said.
De Baan declined to give an expected timeframe for the assessment, but noted that the findings would then be submitted to the TFV’s board of directors for them to decide on. After that, he said, the findings would have to get the approval of the court’s judges, so that they could “determine whether or not the proposed projects would interfere with a legal issue before court or hinder the rights of the accused”.
One reason experts have given for the TFV not acting earlier has been that its work in Kenya could prejudice the trials of those charged in The Hague.
Another, some argue, is that the TFV has until now lacked the funds to take on more projects.
Nonetheless, legal experts say the TFV’s move should be saluted, even though it has come so late.
George Kegoro, executive director of the Kenya section of the International Commission of Jurists, said that further engagement with the ICC was welcome, particularly in light of the myriad challenges the court has faced in bringing prosecutions, as well as Nairobi’s opposition to its work.
“I think TFV should visit the country,” he said. “The visit represents hope that the ICC has for the cases despite the challenges they have experienced in court. The visit can also, hopefully, serve to maintain the agenda for victims in the public discourse in Kenya, and also to challenge the Kenyan government to do something of its own for victims.”
(This article was produced as part of a media development programme implemented by IWPR and Wayamo Communication Foundation).