DRC awaiting first arrest warrants

23 January 2006 by Emmanuel Chicon and Benjamin Bibas

On January 10, Serge Brammertz, the deputy prosecutor in charge of investigations at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was given a six-month temporary assignment as head of the UN's fact-finding committee on the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister. Since his departure, Congolese NGOs, which had already advised the Court to issue arrest warrants before the December 18 referendum, are concerned that the ICC "legal proceedings will be stalled" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a country where individuals suspected of war crimes hold political office, and whose terms may be renewed following the March 5 legislative elections, the question is: why is the ICC waiting to issue its first arrest warrants in the DRC?

Since July 2003, one month after taking office, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, has been saying that he intends to focus specifically on Ituri, a district in the northeast on the Congolese-Ugandan border. There, six militia groups that in many cases have ties to former Congolese belligerents currently in power in Kinshasa, some of which are supported by the Kampala government, fought from 2002 to 2004 over control of the mineral resources while terrorizing the civilian population - massacres, gang rapes, torture, conscripting children, etc. The matter was referred to the prosecutor, who opened an investigation three months later into the "serious crimes" committed in this country. At the beginning of December 2005, he said the investigation is in a "very advanced" stage.

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.