On 13 – 16 March 2023, the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) held a training on witness protection and support for victims of conflict-related sexual violence in Ukraine. The training gathered in Kyiv Prosecutors of the Conflict-related Sexual Violence Unit, the Juvenile Justice Department and other specialised staff from the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine; members of the Ukrainian National Police, in particular from the Witness Protection Unit, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists working for NGOs to help apply an integrated, witness and victim-centered model for the protection and support of victims and witnesses of sexual violence.
“Over the past decade the ICC Registry has invested a lot in the development of a witness and victim-centered model for protection and support, guided by a trauma-informed approach. The Rome Statute was ground-breaking in demanding the inclusion of trauma-experts in the Victims and Witnesses Section and provide for possibilities to offer specialised psychosocial support. This support approach goes hand in hand with a strong vision on protection guided by international standards. I am satisfied to see that our training reaches such a divers and multidisciplinary group of professionals in Ukraine. And it is my hope that this training will strengthen cooperation between the ICC Registry and the Prosecutor General’s Office as well as with the National Police and Witness protection Unit,” said ICC Registrar Peter Lewis opening the training.
Discussions, presentations and practical exercises focused on diverse issues related to protection and support such as multidisciplinary approaches to supporting and protecting survivors, the operational framework for witness protection and support, implementing a survivor-centered and trauma-informed approach or ensuring consent and confidentiality. High level speakers included the Court’s Registrar, Peter Lewis, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Andrii Kostyn, the Director of the Prosecutor’s Training Center of Ukraine, Olesia Otradnova, the Head of the Division of procedural management of pre-trial investigation and maintenance of public accusations in criminal proceedings on crimes related sexual violence, Iryna Didenko, and Vitor Maia Domingues Sousa of the Europol Special Tactics Division.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andrii Kostyn mentioned in his opening address that ‘Undeniably, for victims and witnesses, the psychological assistance is no less important than the legal aid. Empathy is something that can and should be developed by all participants in criminal proceedings.’
The training was organised with the financial support of the European Union.