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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

1:45 p.m.

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

Kristin Kalla

There are several studies. We've conducted one, and the University of California at Berkeley has conducted another one. I think the UN has several studies. Of course it's difficult to interview minors and children, and the studies are secondary in the sense that you go in and you look at families to see what's happened.

Oftentimes these children are more vulnerable than other children in the family because of the stigma associated with the rape. Oftentimes they're not accepted back by the fathers or the husbands and by the parents, which means that often these children are not able to go to school or even nutritionally receive the same food within a household.

This is why it's really important to have programs that address the specific vulnerability for these children, and again why we're focusing on this and why we're trying to encourage others to do so as well.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Is there a difference between the reparations that are ordered by the International Criminal Court and the general assistance that your trust fund provides?

1:45 p.m.

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

Kristin Kalla

That's a very good question.

A reparations order would obviously come after there's a conviction at the ICC. What we have now is a first conviction on the Lubanga case. Primarily, a reparations award would be funded by the perpetrator, by the convicted party, through either fines or forfeitures, which could be liquidated and put through the trust fund for us to administer for reparations.

In the context of where you have someone who is convicted who is indigent, which looks like the context of Lubanga in this case, the board of directors of the trust fund can decide to complement that court order using our voluntary contributions. Now, if that happens, our rules dictate the use of the voluntary contributions, which means that we can provide a collective order, not individual, which is very different from if the convicted party were to provide individual compensation for victims.

We're yet to see, now, how this will play out on the Lubanga case. We are in the middle, right now, of specific filings with chambers on this issue, and the court itself, the ICC, is in the process of establishing reparations principles.

For a victim, what we've learned from the survivors in these communities is that being identified with a specific conviction and court order has specific meaning for victims, which is different from the rehabilitation assistance they are required to have. That isn't necessarily linked to a conviction.

We don't require a conviction to be able to implement support for victims in their setting, in this situation, which is very different from victims participating on a case.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Scott Reid

I'm afraid that's all we have time for, Mr. Hiebert.

Mr. Scarpaleggia, you're next.

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you.

That was fascinating testimony, Ms. Kalla. There were some good questions, I might add, from the other members here. I learned a lot from the questions and your answers to them.

I'm trying to understand, organizationally, how this problem is being dealt with on a global scale. There's your fund, your programs, but then countries have bilateral programs for a constellation of NGOs. It must be difficult even for you to understand or know who is out there doing what in the service of trying to help these victims of violence.

Where do you fit in? Are you the hub in the wheel? I'm just trying to better understand how the world is organizing itself to solve this problem.

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 Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Have you had—

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

I understand as well that the United Nations has a peacekeeping force in the eastern DRC. Are you able to comment in terms of its work in preventing this from happening and what assistance it is providing to victims and survivors?

1:55 p.m.

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

Kristin Kalla

I'm not able to comment directly on the program. I know the UN has its own program to train peacekeepers. I know this because I was a trainer for peacekeepers in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The peacekeepers themselves are trained on this issue, in terms of their own behaviour but also how to address this issue with communities where they are working. I can't comment specifically; I haven't seen the program in Congo. Obviously for the International Criminal Court we interact quite a lot with the UN, and the MONUSCO provides us with support in terms of security in field operations. So we have a close collaboration with them in eastern Congo.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Thank you.

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Scott Reid

Good timing. You were five minutes, on the second.

Ms. Péclet, you have the floor.

2 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Thank you very much.

I would also like to thank you for being here today and for all the work that you have done. It is really fantastic. This is for all the women everywhere in Africa. We have never heard from anyone here who works at the International Criminal Court. It is interesting to hear from you today.

Pursuant to the Rome Statute, do the victims have the right to file complaints, or does the government have to do so? How is an investigation launched by the International Criminal Court?