Evidence of meeting #39 for Subcommittee on International Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was support.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Kristin Kalla  Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

1:50 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

Kristin Kalla

Thank you for your question.

There is no doubt that in this type of effort, as I mentioned, it's always challenging to coordinate efforts.

I would say that for the trust fund, before we initiate any of our activities, we carry out an assessment. As part of that assessment in a situation we meet with the government in a variety of sectors where we think we will be operational, so obviously the health sector, education, gender, social affairs, and so on. That's very important. But we also meet with a lot of the bilateral programs and support in the embassies, as well as with the UN.

In the context of the DRC, obviously in Kinshasa there are committees that come together from the different sectors that involve the multilaterals, bilaterals, and NGOs operating under those programs together with the government ministries. We will attend those meetings. There are also meetings at the provincial level. So it's very important, not only for us but any organization, whether you're a donor or an NGO, to coordinate within those committees.

There will always be challenges around this where you have many types of donors and partners, especially in a country that has a lot of initiatives. We're launching now in the Central African Republic, for example, supporting victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and there are very few donors and very few partners working on this issue. Our challenge is less about coordination and more about advocating to get parties involved in this type of effort. Each situation is a little bit different, but indeed this is always a challenge.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Essentially, you follow your leads and then you go into a local community, you look for all the intervenors, you get together, you try to work out a joint approach in each particular community where every group maybe contributes something to the effort, and you make sure there is no overlap, and so on and so forth? That's pretty much it, I guess.

1:50 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

Kristin Kalla

Absolutely. You've just described our work.

We do have staff who live in the situation. Again, it's very important to have staff there that can monitor the activities, bring the partners together, organize joint program initiatives, refer to each other so our initiatives are linked to other initiatives in the community. We carry out a mapping exercise that also involves other initiatives and the government, and it's very important to include especially the provincial authorities in this.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

I imagine in your role, yes, you're on the ground, you're making sure that things are being pulled together on the ground, and then a lot of your work I would think is international advocacy and relationship building with governments to, as you mentioned, try to obtain voluntary contributions to your fund. You've been dealing with the Canadian government over the years?

1:50 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

Kristin Kalla

Indeed. We have met with your embassy in The Hague and your ambassador is involved in what's called The Hague working group, which is the group that comes together of the states parties around the International Criminal Court. This is the first time we've been invited to come to Ottawa, so we're very happy to be here. As I mentioned, Canada has not been a contributor, and we hope that would change.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

You're familiar, of course, with General Dallaire's work on child soldiers?

1:50 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Have you had—

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Scott Reid

Sorry, Mr. Scarpaleggia, you're actually out of time.

The worst you can do is initiate a long and detailed, thoughtful response. That totally messes up our clock.

Mr. McColeman, you're next.

May 17th, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you for your very thorough presentation today.

In your presentation—I'm going to refer to one section here—you said international criminal law is not victim-oriented, and those who expect redress through international judicial settlements have consistently been cautioned against over-optimism regarding the results. I'm wondering if you could paint a picture for us of what that means to you, having been on the ground as you have in this environment and been involved in these really horrific situations.

1:55 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

Kristin Kalla

Thank you.

I think we can take the lessons learned from the other international criminal tribunals, such as Rwanda—I lived in Rwanda for three years just after the genocide, so it's one I'm most familiar with—the Cambodia tribunals, the Yugoslavia tribunal, and now Sierra Leone. These tribunals did not have a mechanism to provide any support for victims during the judiciary process, nor at the end, when there was a conviction. There wasn't an ability to do so. So although justice may have been served, I think victims in those situations never felt necessarily directly recognized, and they never received either rehabilitation assistance or reparations as part of those tribunals.

This is the uniqueness of the Rome Statute. The drafters came together to learn from those lessons, and this will be the first time you have an international criminal tribunal that has this type of mechanism. I think this is why we have to measure the impact of it and how that is felt for victims. This will be the first time that, if the court orders reparations—for example, on the Lubanga case—we will be able to assess what that means for victims.

In the context of where we're working and what we've seen, certainly in the DRC, with the mass atrocities that have occurred, what we don't know is how many of these victims will really be able to receive redress. This is where meeting the expectations of victims in these communities and being realistic in terms of our ability to be able to fund either a reparations order or the ability of a convicted party to do so, with the amount of funding we have.... Just to give you the reality, we only obligate about three million euros per year for all of these activities. It's really all we have to set aside to do so.

I think this probably speaks a little to your question in terms of victims' expectations.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Right.

The scope or the scale of it is hard to conceptualize. Throughout your presentation—maybe I missed it, and if I did, I apologize—is there some kind of scope you could give us to indicate the size, the number of victims, the scale of this?

1:55 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

Kristin Kalla

In general, or in terms of our support?

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

In terms of both, in general and your support.

1:55 p.m.

Senior Program Officer, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court

Kristin Kalla

We are providing assistance to 82,000 victims, but this would be in both northern Uganda and the DRC, and that's every year, per year, approximately. Of course it's very difficult to have the figures to define victims in the context of DRC, if you're looking specifically for victims of sexual violence. I mentioned that the UN has collected some information annually, but it's difficult to measure. I've seen 15,000 to 30,000 victims of sexual violence per year. It's very difficult to document, given the circumstances.