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DRC: Latest Statements and News
02 Nov 2011
Please find below information about recent developments related to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) investigation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This message includes latest updates on ongoing ICC proceedings (I) as well as other news and statements (II).
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
I. COURT UPDATES
A. LUBANGA TRIAL
1. "Summary of the closing statements in The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo," Special Issue of Legal Eye on the ICC, Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice, October 2011, http://www.iccwomen.org/news/docs/LegalEye_Oct11/LegalEye10-11.html#1
"... On 25 and 26 August 2011, Trial Chamber I heard closing statements by the Prosecution, the Legal Representatives of Victims, and the Defence in the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga) is a Congolese national of Hema ethnicity, born in 1960 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He is the alleged founder and president of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) and is charged with the war crimes consisting of enlisting and conscripting of children under the age of 15 years into the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) and using them to participate actively in hostilities between September 2002 and August 2003.
Charges for gender-based crimes were not included in the case against Lubanga, despite the availability of numerous documents, UN and NGO reports, including reports from the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice, indicating that such crimes had been committed by the UPC. Since the early stages of the case, Women's Initiatives has advocated for further investigation and re-examination of the charges, was the first NGO to file before the ICC in respect of these issues, and has monitored and analysed the filings, jurisprudence, and witness testimony in particular regarding girl soldiers and gender-based crimes.
Lubanga was arrested and surrendered to the Court on 16 March 2006 and his trial commenced on 26 January 2009. The trial has been stayed twice by the Chamber: in 2008, immediately prior to the scheduled start of the trial, due to issues with the Prosecution's disclosure of evidence to the Defence; and in 2010 due to their failure to comply with orders of the Trial Chamber to disclose the identity of a prosecution intermediary to the Defence. On 20 May 2011, Trial Chamber I ordered the closing of the presentation of evidence stage. ..."
READ FULL SUMMARY: http://www.iccwomen.org/news/docs/LegalEye_Oct11/LegalEye10-11.html#1
2. "Closing statements in the Lubanga case, what the victims had to say," by Nisma Bounakhla, Victims' Rights Working Group, 21 September 2011, http://www.vrwg.org/home/home/post/26-closing-statements-in-the-lubanga-case-what-the-victims-had-to-say/
"The trial of Thomas Lubanga, allegedly former chief of UPC-FPLC militia, has reached its final stage with the closing statements of the Office of the Prosecutor, Legal Representatives of victims and the Defense held on 25th and 26 August 2011. Thomas Lubanga is being tried for the war crimes of conscription, enlistment and use of child soldiers under the age of 15 during the Ituri conflict between September 2002 and August 2003 (Article 8 - Rome Statute), he has pleaded not guilty. Despite many controversies and new twists that halted the trial and nearly resulted in the release of the accused twice, the first trial at the International Criminal Court represents a positive step forward as to the question of victims' participation in international criminal proceedings. Indeed, notwithstanding whether Thomas Lubanga is convicted or not by the judges, the first trial of the ICC will remain for many, a landmark trial with regard to victims' participation and contribution to the implementation of victim's rights before the ICC.
As mentioned during the closing arguments, victims' participation throughout the ICC's first trial has been challenging and innovative in many respects. For example, following the Appeal Chamber's confirmation that victims were allowed to lead and challenge evidence relating to the guilt or innocence of the accused in 2008, three victims successfully applied and were allowed to testify in person for the first time before the Court. In 2010, they came and presented evidence in the trial, thus grounding further the rights of victims to participate independently of the Prosecutor and present evidence before the Court.
During her closing submissions, the Principal Counsel of the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV), Ms. Paolina Massidda, stressed the proactive contribution of victims throughout the trial. Indeed, in May 2009 victims sought to modify the legal characterisation of the facts supporting the charges brought against the accused so as to include additional charges of sexual slavery and cruel and inhuman treatment; Ms Massidda also underlined that victims wanted Thomas Lubanga held liable not only as a co-perpetrator, but as a direct perpetrator for the alleged crime of enlistment, conscription and use of child soldiers under the age of 15.
The main concerns of victims outlined by victims' legal representatives during the closing submissions were threefold. First, they asserted that the ultimate goal of victims was the search for the truth and their wish to have their voices heard at the heart of the court proceedings judging the man they believed to be most responsible for their suffering. The second point raised was the scale of the trauma experienced by the victims, most of whom were children at the time. As stated by Ms Paolina Massidda, nothing, not even reparation, will be able to fully restore the children's stolen childhood or compensate them fully for the inhuman treatment they were subjected to, the wide range of physical and psychological abuses, the violent acts and the sexual violence they endured on a daily basis in the training camps. The parents' indirect harm due to the moral and psychological suffering they experienced by the abduction and enlistment of their children was also highlighted. Finally, it was mentioned that, despite protective measures implemented by the Court, many victims who had appeared as prosecution witnesses, had suffered threats or reprisals in retaliation for their testimonies before the Court.
The final statements made by the victims' legal representatives also revisited the issues surrounding the non-inclusion of charges relating to sexual violence, which has long been deplored by civil society organisations working with victims. As was queried by Judge Odio Benito to the Prosecution during the closing hearings: how is sexual violence experienced by girls relevant to the case and how does the Prosecution expect the Chamber to address that issue in so far as there is no mention of sexual violence in the document containing the charges against the accused? The Prosecution indicated in its closing brief, that sexual violence should be considered as a form of active participation of children in hostilities, basing its argument on international jurisprudence relating to the definition of "active participation in hostilities". In addition, during the hearing, the Prosecutor specified that sexual violence had been inflicted to young girls during their conscription and therefore was to be considered as an element of conscription, and in fact, as the "gender aspect" of the crime of conscription. This echoes victims' legal representatives' position that sexual violence should be considered as an aggravating circumstance to the crime of enlistment, recruitment and active participation of children under the age of 15 in hostilities.
Should Thomas Lubanga be convicted, it will be interesting to see whether the Judges will adopt the wider definition of the crime of conscription suggested by the Prosecution and victims' legal representatives."
3. "Lubanga in the Hague: A Role to Play in DRC's Elections?" by Olivia Bueno, International Refugee Rights Initiative, 20 October 2011, http://www.lubangatrial.org/2011/10/20/lubanga-in-the-hague-a-role-to-play-in-drcâs-elections/
4. "Should child soldiers be prosecuted for their crimes?" IRIN, 6 October 2011 http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=93900
5. Informal Lubanga trial updates, CICC, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/?mod=trialmonitor&idudctp=109&show=all#109
B. KATANGA/NGUDJOLO TRIAL
1. Germain Katanga Completes Testimony before the ICC," Katanga Trial Blog, 31 October 2011, http://www.katangatrial.org/2011/10/germain-katanga-completes-testimony-before-the-icc/
2. "Katanga Denies Being Present at February 24 Bogoro Attack," by Jennifer Easterday, Katanga Trial Blog, 11 October 2011, http://www.katangatrial.org/2011/10/katanga-denies-being-present-at-february-24-bogoro-attack/
3. "ICC/KATANGA - Katanga denies his presence in Bogoro the day of massacre," Fondation Hirondelle, 6 October 2011, http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/14859/1176/
4. "Accused Germain Katanga Takes the Stand," by Jennifer Easterday, Katanga Trial Blog, 29 September 2011, http://www.katangatrial.org/2011/09/accused-germain-katanga-takes-the-stand/
5. "ICC/KATANGA - Germain Katanga testifies in his own defence," Fondation Hirondelle, 27 September 2011, http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/14814/1176/
6. "Activists Question ICC's Decision on Witness Protection," by Olivia Bueno, Katanga Trial Blog, 23 September 2011, http://www.katangatrial.org/2011/09/activists-question-iccâs-decision-on-witness-protection/
7. "Ngudjolo Helped a Woman Give Birth on Day of Bogoro Attack, Witnesses Say," by Jennifer Easterday, Katanga Trial Blog, 22 September 2011, http://www.katangatrial.org/2011/09/ngudjolo-helped-a-woman-give-birth-on-day-of-bogoro-attack-witnesses-say/
8. "ICC/KATANGA: Prosecutor against a site visit in DRC," Fondation Hirondelle, 16 September 2011, http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/14769/564/
9. "Case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Summary of the proceedings," (03-14 October 2011), http://www.fileserver.icc-cpi.info/video/111018_Katanga&Ngudjolo.mp4 (VIDEO)
10. "Case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Summary of the proceedings," (26-30 September 2011) , http://www.fileserver.icc-cpi.info/video/110930_Katanga&Ngudjolo.mp4 (VIDEO)
11. Informal Katanga/ Ngudjolo trial updates, CICC, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/?mod=trialmonitor&idudctp=109&show=all#109
C. MBARUSHIMANA CASE
1. COALITION MEDIA STATEMENTS
i. "Victims in the Mbarushimana case call for the International Criminal Court's justice," by Marion Colin, Victims Rights Working Group, 18 October 2011, http://www.vrwg.org/home/home/post/28-victims-in-the-mbarushimana-case-call-for-the-international-criminal-courtâs-justice/
"During the confirmation of charges hearing that took place in the Mbarushimana case between 16 and 21 September 2011 legal representatives for the 130 participating victims highlighted victims' demand for justice from the international community. Stressing that only the ICC can provide punishment and reparation for their clients, they stated that victims see the trial as the beginning of a process of restoring peace and of understanding what happened and why.
This echoes some of the submissions made recently in the context of the Defence's jurisdictional challenge. Indeed, on 19 July 2011, Callixte Mbarushimana's Defence challenged the jurisdiction of the Court, arguing that the proceedings did not fall within the scope of the situation referred by the Government of the DRC to the ICC. While jurisdictional challenges are quite common in ICC's proceedings, this challenge had brought to light two interesting points regarding victims' rights.
First, as provided for under Rule 59 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), in the context of proceedings arising from a challenge to the jurisdiction of the Court, not only victims admitted in the case, but also "victims who have communicated with the Court" can make written observations or representations to the Chamber. In this instance, it meant that victims who had submitted an application to participate in the proceedings but were still awaiting a decision on their participatory status were able to present their views to the Court. This is particularly important in the Mbarushimana case, as over 450 victims' applications for participation which have been received by the court, have not yet been ruled upon by the Chamber.
The second originality lies in the content of the observations submitted by the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV). Fed from the work of individuals in the field, the document delivers a rare and comprehensive picture of what 145 victims think of the process and why they wish the ICC to proceed with the case. The main victims' concern relates to considerations around their safety. They stress that "security conditions in the field are not improving in the least and they still face regular attacks from the FDLR". Displaced persons camps in Kalebe are said to be regularly targeted and victims, especially from the Batembo tribe, to face risks of retaliation, extermination and genocide. Victims also denounce the Congolese inability or unwillingness, despite the help of the international community, to bring perpetrators under control and to prosecute them. The overall conclusion from victims' observations is that the ICC is "the only jurisdiction able to adequately play an effective and deterrent role", as well as to render an "impartial and credible justice".
In that regard, the document raises questions as to the ICC's capacity to respond adequately to the high expectations of victims. In terms of protection and reparation, one can wonder whether victims' hopes are not disconnected from what the Court can offer to them. In order not to be deceiving, it will be crucial that victims are informed clearly of what they can expect, especially considering the large amount of victims and the limited resources of the Court.
A decision on the confirmation of charges should be delivered before the 21th of November as required by Regulation 53 of the Regulations of the Court. Until then, victims will have to wait hoping that their call for the ICC's justice will be realised."
ii. "ICC: NPWJ and the NRPTT welcome the opening of the confirmation of charges hearings against Callixte Mbarushimana," No Peace Without Justice, 16 September 2011 http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/NPWJ_PR_ICC_MBARUSHIMANA_16Sept2011.pdf
"The confirmation of charges hearings started today in the case of The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana before Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and will continue until 21 September 2011. This public hearing, where the Prosecutor, the defence and victims' representatives will present their submissions, is the first phase of the case against Mr Mbarushimana. It will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commit him to trial on the basis of the charges brought against him by the ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
On 25 January 2011, Mr Mbarushimana arrived at the ICC detention centre in The Hague after having been arrested on 11 October 2010 by the French authorities. Mr Mbarushima is allegedly criminally responsible for five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts and persecution) and six counts of war crimes (attacks against the civilian population, destruction of property, murder, torture, rape and inhuman treatment) committed in the context of an armed conflict in the Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2009.
Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice "No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), welcome the opening of the confirmation of charges hearings against Callixte Mbarushima as an important step forward for the victims of the Kivu region in their quest for justice.
"It is significant that on 11 August 2011, Pre Trial Chamber I granted 130 persons the status of victims, authorising them to participate in the proceedings relating to this stage of the case. The ICC stands as the last guardian of justice and for many victims, represents their only chance to see perpetrators being held accountable and to seek redress for the violations they suffered.
"For the Court to maximise its impact on victims and affected communities, it is of the utmost importance that effective and sustained outreach activities are carried out. NPWJ and the NRPTT call on the ICC to take immediate steps to increase its outreach program in DRC to promote understanding of the legal proceedings and to manage expectations. With the confirmation of charges hearings, the information needs on the ground have increased and we fully expect the Court to engage with victims and affected communities so that they can follow the process and finally see justice being done."
iii. "ICC to Open Key Hearing in DRC Kivus Investigation," CICC Media Advisory, 15 September 2011, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/Mbarushimana_Confirmation_Hearing_CICC_Media_advisory.pdf
iv. "ICC: Hearing in Congo War Crimes Case, Confirmation of Charges Session for Rebel Leader Callixte Mbarushimana," Human Rights Watch, 14 September 2011 http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/HRW_media_advisory.pdf
2. RELATED NEWS AND OPINIONS
i. "Kibua Assignment Brings Relief to IDPs," by Mélanie Gouby, IWPR, 18 October 2011, http://iwpr.net/report-news/kibua-assignment-brings-relief-idps
ii. "DR CONGO: Maintaining Victims' Faith in Justice," by Emmanuel Chaco, IPS, 23 September 2011, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=105219
iii. "Defence Challenge Case Against Mbarushimana," by Barrett Holmes Pitner, IWPR, 23 September 2011, http://iwpr.net/report-news/defence-challenge-case-against-mbarushimana
iv. "ICC deliberates on trial against Rwandan rebel leader," by Thijs Bouwknegt, Radio Netherlands, 22 September 2011, http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/icc-deliberates-trial-against-rwandan-rebel-leader
v. "Callixte Mbarushimana was the 'linchpin,'" AFP, 16 September 2011
vi. "Rwandan Rebel Leader Faces ICC on War Crimes Charges," Congo Planet, 16 September 2011 , http://www.congoplanet.com/news/1883/callixte-mbarushimana-rwanda-rebel-leader-fdlr-faces-charges-icc.jsp
vi. "ICC/MBARUSHIMANA: Never has so much been expended to prove so little (defence)," Fondation Hirondelle - Hirondelle News Agency, 16 September 2011 http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/14771/564/
vii. "Case The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana, Confirmation of charges," (16-21 September 2011) , http://www.fileserver.icc-cpi.info/video/Callixte_COCH_FRE.mp4 (VIDEO)
viii. "Case the Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana: confirmation of charges hearing, Opening statements," 16 September 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy15HsHyOrw (VIDEO)
II. OTHER NEWS AND STATEMENTS
A. MEDIA STATEMENTS
1. "As Electoral Campaign Starts, Congolese and International NGOs Call for Urgent Measures to Prevent Escalating Violence," 41 humanitarian and human rights organizations, 28 October 2011, http://www.fidh.org/As-Electoral-Campaign-Starts
"The national election campaign officially starts today in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), exactly one month ahead of historic presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for November 28 2011. 41 humanitarian and human rights organizations have expressed concern about the high political tension and deteriorating security situation. They have called upon all Congolese and international actors involved to take urgent measures to prevent electoral violence, better protect civilians and ensure credible, free and fair elections.
... "This election in Congo is the ultimate test. Is Congo on course to consolidate its fledging democracy or return to a state of widespread instability, insecurity and violence? Second elections are vital to consolidate democratic peace gains in the country, complete a full electoral cycle and strengthen democratic institutions", said Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa Director at the International Crisis Group (ICG)...."
2. "DR Congo: Candidates Should Not Incite Violence," Human Rights Watch, 28 October 2011 http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/10/28/dr-congo-candidates-should-not-incite-violence
" Political candidates and their supporters in the Democratic Republic of Congo should not incite violence and should refrain from using hate speech during the upcoming election campaign, Human Rights Watch said today. Congo is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on November 28, 2011.
Since March, Human Rights Watch has documented dozens of instances of apparent ethnic hate speech and incitement to violence by political candidates and their supporters. Police have also used unnecessary or excessive force against political demonstrations. The verbal and physical assaults, primarily against opposition candidates and their supporters, have created a climate of fear in some areas and raised concerns about the credibility of the elections...."
3. "DR Congo: Prosecute Atrocities Exposed by UN - First Anniversary of 'Mapping Report' Shows Need for Stronger International Action," Human Rights Watch, 10 October 2011, http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/10/10/dr-congo-prosecute-atrocities-exposed-un
"Governments around the world should intensify efforts to bring to justice those responsible for grave abuses documented in the United Nations' October 2010 "mapping report," Human Rights Watch said today.
One year after the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the report, there has been insufficient follow-up by governments in Africa's Great Lakes region and by the UN itself, Human Rights Watch said. However, the Congolese government has taken steps to create a specialized mixed court in the country's justice system, with international and Congolese staff, to try those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
...In August 2011, the Congolese minister of justice and human rights presented a draft law to parliament to establish a specialized mixed court to try those responsible for the most serious crimes committed in Congo, including those detailed in the mapping report. International judges and prosecutors were considered necessary to work alongside Congolese judicial personnel to bolster Congolese capacity to try such complex crimes and to help shield the court from political interference. The Senate rejected the draft legislation and asked the government to harmonize its proposal with other draft laws, including one set to incorporate into domestic legislation the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
... Human Rights Watch supports the establishment of a specialized mixed court, with jurisdiction over past and current serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, committed in Congo.
Congolese civil society groups have also expressed strong support for this proposal. Representatives of nongovernmental organizations from each of Congo's 11 provinces, as well as international organizations, met in April in Goma, eastern Congo, where they adopted a Common Position on the government's initial draft legislation. Several important amendments that they recommended were later included in the draft legislation. ... "
4. "U.S. Congo Policy: Matching Deeds to Words to End the World's Deadliest War," Enough Project, 4 October 2011, http://www.enoughproject.org/publications/us-congo-policy-matching-deeds-words-end-worldâs-deadliest-war
"More than two years have passed since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2009, marking the highest level U.S. visit ever to the war-torn region. Beyond the usual palliatives of solidarity with survivors of the violence, the secretary expressed a strong commitment to addressing the causes of conflict and unconscionable loss of human life-estimated to exceed 5 million, the deadliest since World War II.
...In the following report, we offer an assessment of U.S. policy on five different objectives essential to peace and stability in Congo..."
READ FULL REPORT: http://www.enoughproject.org/files/US-Congo-Policy.pdf
5."Open letter to President Joseph Kabila: Appeal to translate promises to fight against impunity into action," Amnesty International, 6 October 2011, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/afr620112011en.pdf
6. "DR Congo: Letters to Presidential Candidates on Conduct During Elections" 73 Congolese and international human rights organizations, 28 October 2011 , http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/10/28/dr-congo-letters-presidential-candidates-conduct-during-elections
7. "La CPI forme des officiers de police judiciaire en République démocratique du Congo," (ICC trains police officers in Democratic Republic of Congo), Press Release, International Criminal Court, ICC-CPI-20110930-PR729, 30 September 2011
http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/press and media/press releases/news and highlights/pr729 [In French]
B. NEWS AND OPINIONS
1. "Congo's militias mobilising again, leading peace activist warns," Tracey MeVeigh, The Guardian, 29 October 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/29/congo-militias-mobilising-again
2. "Human Rights Watch Urges DR Congo Candidates to Stop Hate Speech," Voice of America, 28 October 2011, http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/10/28/human-rights-watch-urges-dr-congo-candidates-to-stop-hate-speech/
3. "Rights violations ignored in DRC," UPI, 10 October 2011, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/10/10/Rights-violations-ignored-in-DRC/UPI-31921318265214/
4. "Mai Mai Feuding Displaces Thousands - Civilians uprooted by fighting between rival militias in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo," IWPR, 20 October 2011, http://iwpr.net/report-news/mai-mai-feuding-displaces-thousands
5. "DRC/ICC - Congo President not yet informed on American anti-LRA deployment," Fondation Hirondelle, 19 October 2011, http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/14894/564/
6. "Kabila Confident He Will Win Re-Election," Congo Planet, 18 October 2011 http://congoplanet.com/news/1899/joseph-kabila-confident-he-will-win-dr-congo-re-election.jsp
7. "International Tribunal for Congo - a road map?" by Josephine Uwineza, Radio Netherlands, 11 October 2011, http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/international-tribunal-congo-â-a-road-map
8. "DRC Youth Under Spotlight as Elections Loom," IWPR, 10 October 2011, http://iwpr.net/report-news/drc-youth-under-spotlight-elections-loom
9. "Congo stands at the crossroads," The Guardian, 29 September 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/sep/29/congo-way-of-rwanda-ethiopia
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts. Communications to the ICC can be sent to: ICC P.O. box 19519 2500 CM The Hague, the Netherlands.