An ICC witness on hunger strike for three weeks

14 May 2014 by IJT

“He is very weak,” says his lawyer Göran Sluiter. Floribert Ndjabu Ngabu, a Congolese witness kept for three years at the International Criminal Court (ICC) detention unit has been on hunger strike for three weeks now. He is protesting against his stalled asylum bid in The Netherlands. 

Ndjabu and two other Congolese men – Pierre Célestin Mbodina  and Sharif Manda Ndadza – were flown in March 2011 from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to The Netherlands to testify in defence of ICC suspects Germain Katanga (recently convicted) and Mathieu Ngudjolo (acquitted, see IJT-156). In DRC, the three witnesses had been imprisoned without charge nor trial. Upon arrival they were taken to the ICC detention centre in Scheveningen (The Hague), where they remain. While at the ICC the witnesses, who belonged to militias, accused the Congolese authorities of massive human rights violations during the Ituri wars. Fearing for their lives, they requested asylum.

“A disgrace”

A long legal battle followed. On 14 October 2013, the district court of Amsterdam ruled that the Dutch government “rightly” refused asylum since it is “likely” the three men were involved in crimes against humanity. The judges decided at the same time they couldn’t be returned to DRC, since there is “a real risk” they would be detained, “not be given a fair trial” and be “sentenced to death.” 

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