What is happening to the victims in the first Kenya case?

The lawyer for radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has filed an application asking trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to compel the legal representative of victims to confirm the number and identity of his clients.

Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa said he raised the question on behalf of Sang because there is conflicting information about how many victims are represented in the case in which Sang is facing three counts of crimes against humanity. Kigen-Katwa said that in a July 1, 2013 email Wilfred Nderitu, the victims’ lawyer, acknowledged that there were reports that 93 victims had withdrawn from the case, and it was Nderitu’s responsibility to verify the information. Kigen-Katwa said that he had not heard anything else from Nderitu on that matter.

In his August 19 application, Kigen-Katwa said that during the pre-trial phase there were 327 victims registered to participate in the case. He said that the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS) reduced the number of victims in the case in line with the confirmation of charges decision in January 2012. In that decision, the judges changed the geographical area covered under the charges, leading to 149 victims no longer being able to participate in the case. The VPRS then determined the number of victims participating in the case would be provisionally set at 120, with another 58 to be confirmed.

Kigen-Katwa asked the judges to intervene in the matter of victims participation because, he argued, it raised the question of who would Nderitu be speaking for when the trial began next week. He also said that knowing the exact number of victims participating mattered in case of the victims are to seek reparations if the judges decided to convict his client.

The judges are yet to issue any orders on the issues raised in Kigen-Katwa’s application.

The participation of victims is a unique feature of the ICC where victims of crimes against humanity, who are not prosecution witnesses, get to take part in the legal process. Their participation is, however, not at the same level as the prosecution and the defense, but they do get to tell their story. Victims can also apply for reparations at any time during proceedings.