Iturians tired of waiting

25 November 2009 by Sylvere Unen

As the trial of former militiamen Mathieu Ngudjolo and Germain Katanga opened this week at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, residents of their home district of Ituri in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are losing faith in the court. 

In March 2005, the arrest of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo struck a chord with the population of the DRC and their attention turned to the ICC, where one of the principal actors in the Iturian tragedy was going to be tried for the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

In Ituri, the lack of equitable justice, poor governance, and the absence of dialogue have all contributed to the rise in bloody inter-ethnic violence, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives. The ICC seemed to offer an opportunity to re-establish peace through justice.

However, from the outset the Hema community - to which Lubanga belongs - saw the court as an instrument of oppression by the international community.

In February 2008, the arrest of two more Iturians, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, changed everything.

The two new defendants came from the Lendu ethnic group which fought the Hema during the war. The two men were accused of committing crimes in Bogoro, a Hema village located 30km south of Bunia. From that point on, the talk in Ituri was of actions perpetrated against sons of this district.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.