After completion of this course the students should be able to:
- Distinguish the content of six victims' rights (respect, information, support, participation, compensation, protection) and of the various international, European, and national legal instruments containing these rights
- Appraise the extent to which these victims' rights have been implemented in practice (of countries and/or courts) and explain the impact that the difference between 'the law in books' and 'the law in practice' may have on the actual position of victims in criminal proceedings
- Explain the differences in legal status of the various international victims' rights instruments ('soft' versus 'hard' law) and the consequences for obligations of states
- Compare the different international crimes; understand the different positions victims hold in international procedures; assess the difficulties with regard to the implementation of victims' rights before international institutions
- Explain the different concepts relating to reparations (compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition) and appraise the role that the law, NGOs, governments (national and local) and other institutions could play in the case of reparations in the aftermath of mass victimization; apply and evaluate the acquired knowledge relating to victims' rights, including the right to reparation, to specific cases of mass victimation adjudicated before (international) justice institutions
- Distinguish and assess the victims' experience with (international) justice institutions, NGOs, and victims' rights organisations
The course consists of 13 lectures, broadly divided into five parts:
1) During the first part (lectures 1 and 2) the students will be introduced to the development of victims’ rights in a national and international context. Topics include the emancipation of victims during the past few decades, the main international and European developments in this context, and the relative importance (in terms of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ law) of these developments.
2) The second part (lectures 3 to 5) focuses on specific victims’ rights, such as the victim impact statement, auxiliary and private prosecution, the right to protection, etcetera. With the recent EU Directive as a guideline, the various victims’ rights are discussed. What do these rights entail? What is their relationship to national and international obligations? What differences can be discerned between national legal systems and how do these differences influence the position of the victim in practice?
3) The third part (lectures 6 to 8 and 10 to 11) will concentrate on victims of international crimes. An overview will be given of the most important developments in international human rights law, humanitarian law, and international criminal law. The students will also gain an understanding of the problems encountered in the implementation of the specific victims' rights in an international context, such as participation, reparation and protection.
4) The fourth part (lectures 9 and 12) will be presented by guest lecturers who will talk about their experiences with victims’ rights. The support to victims of national and international crimes will be discussed from a practitioners’ point of view.
5) The fifth part (lecture 13) is dedicated to the preparation of the written exam and Q&A.
- M. Groenhuijsen & R. Letschert, Compilation of International Victims' Rights Instruments (3rd edition), Wolf, 2012, ISBN 9789058508232.
- All academic articles which constitute compulsory reading will be included in the Reader.
The final grade (100%) is made up of the following components:
- The grade for the written exam (70%)
- Active participation during lectures (10%). The students will either be awarded the full 10% for active participation or 0%.
- Handing in 2 questions ( based on prescribed literature) before each of the lectures (20%). For 20%, questions need to be sent for 7 of the 13 lectures, need to be coherent, and clearly articulated (by the end of the course, the students will have sent 14 questions). The students will either be awarded the full 20% if they respect the aforementioned criteria or 0%.