Military courts at the front in Congo

25 September 2006 by Franck Petit

Paradox? On March 3, 2004 the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo deferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because "the Congolese authorities are unfortunately not in a position to investigate the crimes" under the Rome Statute. Today, the world court is the one that has produced mediocre results while the Congolese courts have been handing down rulings in a series of trials for some of the most serious crimes.

"As a consequence of complementarity [...] the absence of cases before the Court as a consequence of the regular functioning of national institutions, would be a major success," predicted Luis Moreno Ocampo when he was sworn in as ICC prosecutor on June 16, 2003. In fact, the presence of the Court, along with the field actions of the UN mission (MONUC) and NGOs such as Lawyers Without Borders and Citizen's network, have indeed prompted the emergence of some trials for serious crimes before national courts. Even though implementation of the Rome Statute, which Kinshasa ratified on March 30, 2002, is still being held up in the Congolese parliament, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide have been classified as crimes in the military code since 1972. This, along with the fact that military courts are less vulnerable to political pressure, has pushed these tribunals to the forefront.

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
21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

article
07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

article
07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

article
07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

article
07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.