ICC joins the Congolese chess game

05 July 2004 by Thierry Cruvellier

On 23 June, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno Ocampo announced he was opening his first investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to his press release, Ocampo has already been "carefully analysing the situation in DRC" since July 2003. But the new step, which marks the difference between a "preliminary analysis" and the opening of an investigation, is notable for the legal process that could lead to the first trials before the international court, and is highly significant in the current political context.

Since the end of May, there has been a severe resurgence of violence in the east of the country. Tensions are mounting between Kinshasa and Kigali, which is accused of backing the rebellion in the Kivus. The UN mission - Monuc - is trying to recoup its credibility after being criticised for failing to intervene. On the eve of Ocampo's announcement, the UN Security Council condemned the violence and called for an enquiry, saying that "those responsible for atrocities and human rights violations must be held to account, and the government of unity and national transition [of the DRC], with the support of the international community, should take immediate action to end the current climate of impunity."

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