Browse by Region
DRC: News Coverage of DRC National Coaltion (CN-CPI); Lubanga Trial, Bosco Ntanganda and More
22 May 2009
Please find below information about recent developments related to the International Criminal Court's investigation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This message covers the latest information on developments including (1) Congolese media coverage of national DRC Coalition activities; (2) continued international coverage of Lubanga trial which resumed on 5 May; (3) recent DRC-related postings to Coalition's blog, In Situ; (4) news reports on Bosco Ntaganda and calls for his arrest and transfer to the ICC;(5) comments and analysis; (6) other developments including release of an ICTY report on the Court's impact in DRC.
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
For more on the Lubanga trial, see our redesigned website at www.coalitionfortheicc.org or www.togetherforjustice.org and participate in our blog discussion at www.coalitionfortheicc.org/blog
I. DRC NEWS COVERAGE OF NATIONAL COALITON
i. "Katanga: First film festival on the ICC", ("Katanga: Premier festival du film sur la CPI,") by D-I.K. (Le Phare-DRC), 7 May 2009 (in French), http://www.lepharerdc.com/www/index_view.php?storyID=8638&rubriqueID=10
"The national Coalition for the ICC (CN- CPI) held its first documentary film festival on the ICC in Katanga region from 24 to 27 April 2009 in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation. According to festival coordinator and [DRC Coalition Coordinator]Christian Hemedi, the screening of films took place in the towns of Lubumbashi (Hall de l'Etoile), Mwadingusha (Cercle des Cadres) and Likasi (Centre universitaire). Why the choice of Katanga? Hemedi noted that the province was the scene of deliberate attacks on civilians by armed groups—attacks under the jurisdiction of the ICC. The Ankoro, Kilwa and Gédéon cases representing war crimes and crimes against humanity also stem from the Katanga province. More than 1,500 people took part in the festival. The audience was composed of lawyers, university professors, magistrates, judges, students, researchers and NGOs working on behalf of victims and women's rights. The screenings were divided by theory and practice. At the end of each segment, a debate lasting anywhere from 4 to 5 hours ensued. The most frequently asked questions from the audience pertained to the independence of the ICC vis-à-vis global hegemonies; perceptions that the ICC is only targeting African leaders; a look at the Court's ten years; the relationship between lawyers and the Registry; procedural questions; participation of victims in the proceedings and the process of indemnity with Judge Losange and Christian Hemedi moderating. The CN-CPI screened, among other films, "In Search of International Justice", "A Duty to Protect: Justice for Child Soldiers in the D.R.C" and "The ICC is now a reality." Given the success of this first film festival, the Coalition plans to organize one in Kinshasa in conjunction with festivities commemorating the 17 July Day of International Justice. The festival might also feature a temporary exhibit of photos and posters documenting the history of the ICC since its inception.
Translation is unofficial and provided by CICC Secretariat.
II. LUBANGA TRIAL UPDATES
i. "Newsline interview with ICC's Beatrice Le Fraper," 5 May 2009, http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/globaldevelopment/090505-icc-justice-moreno-ocampo
Excerpts from Newsline's audio interview:
"We have nearly completed what we call the `presentation of evidence' of the crimes themselves so most of the children have now come to Court and have given their testimony, now we are going to go into an entirely different phase which is the phrase with all the insiders, the military colleagues of Thomas Lubanga, all his political associates and they will come and speak about his personal responsibility...we believe we have established that the crime of enlistment was committed, now we have to really demonstrate the person responsibility of Thomas Lubanga..."
[Please see aforementioned link to hear Newsline interview with Lisa Clifford, a reporter for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in The Hague]
ii. "The ICC - asset to international justice?," by Bram Posthumus and Jan Huisman, 5 May 2009, http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/globaldevelopment/090505-icc-justice-moreno-ocampo
"...After a number of stumbles and controversies, this international legal tribunal is hoping for a smooth conviction to restore confidence in the court and its chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Crucial to having Thomas Lubanga tried and convicted - along with a limited number of exclusively African defendants - are witnesses.
...Beatrice Le Fraper, special advisor to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said lessons have been learned from that [first witness initially testified against Thomas Lubanga, saying he had been recruited as a child soldier, only to retract his statement later that same day]episode.
`This was a very painful experience for this first child witness. But it was a necessary warning signal to the International Criminal Court as a whole. But Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo is someone who has always wanted to keep the number of witnesses at a minimum, so we try to use a lot of documentary evidence.'
...Ms Le Fraper describes Luis Moreno-Ocampo as a dedicated and energetic prosecutor who has resisted all manner of pressures - even from the many European countries which have declared themselves highly in favour of the ICC - to 'slow down one investigation here, speed up another over there.'
But in his tenure as ICC chief prosecutor Mr Moreno-Ocampo's record has led some to question whether his zeal clouds his judgement.
....The Lubanga case is moving faster than expected and the prosecution could wrap up its case within two months, according to Ms Clifford [Lisa Clifford, a reporter for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in The Hague]."
iii."Court Told of Lubanga's UPC Role," by Wairagala Wakabi (IWPR), 8 May 2009,
"The rapid rise of accused Congolese leader Thomas Lubanga within the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, and his role in the group's militia were revealed this week in his trial before the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague.
...Earlier in the week, an unidentified former political leader in Ituri told the court that Lubanga became spokesman for the Hema because he was educated.
...Meanwhile, Serge Kilo Ngabu, a former social worker in the Ituri region controlled by UPC, testified that Lubanga led the group and it had hundreds of child soldiers, some less than nine-years-old. Some were girls, he said.
As an employee of SOS Grand Lacs, a non-governmental agency funded by the UN, Ngabu said it was difficult to convince some parents to take back children who had returned from the militia training."
iv. "Psychologist Describes Child Soldier Trauma," by Wairagala Wakabi, 9 April 2009, http://www.iwpr.net/?p=acr&s=f&o=351630&apc_state=henpacr
"A clinical psychologist this week told the trial of Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga that former child soldiers suffer high levels of post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD...
Psychologist Elisabeth Schauer ...who has worked with former child soldiers and is the director of the German NGO Vivo International, said 27 per cent of the children who stayed with rebels for less than a month suffered PTSD...
...She replied [to Judge Afrian Fulford who asked if those suffering from PTSD could have a reliable recollection of events] that they could not remember single incidents without the whole memory coming back to them. As a result, they were often uncomfortable talking about traumatic experiences, she said."
v. Links to weekly audio and video summaries of the hearings held between 5 – 8 May 2009 in the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo are found below:
See these other reports published on Lubangatrial.org:
a."Witness Says Families Reject Child Soldier," by Wairagala Wakabi (IWPR), 7 May 2009, http://www.lubangatrial.org/2009/05/07/witness-says-families-reject-child-soldiers/
b."Witness: Land Grab Sparked Conflict," by Wairagala Wakabi (IWPR), 6 May 2009, http://www.lubangatrial.org/2009/05/06/witness-land-grab-sparked-conflict/
c."Witness: Uganda Trained Child Soldiers," by Wairagala Wakabi (IWPR), 5 May 2009,
III. `IN SITU' BLOG UPDATE
i. "Battling Impunity in the DRC," by Delly Mawazo Sesete, In Situ blog posting, 7 May 2009 (ADD LINK WHEN READY)
"The Lubanga trial might have a dampening effect on the rampant impunity we see here in the Congo. I am elated to see that "enemies of the human race" are finally being held accountable for their actions before international judicial institutions.
For far too long, far too many of my compatriots in the DR Congo have behaved like entitled kings without any fear of consequence and this fact is most unjust. And although the ICC aims for those deemed most responsible, we are only chipping away at the problem of impunity.
The international community should help Congolese civil society in its quest to pass the national law implementing the Rome Statute without delay. This law can address perpetrators of crimes falling outside the ICC's jurisdictional boundaries.
I have always held close the memory of those viciously killed before the Rome Statute's entry into force. It is in their name and the name of their beloved families that we in the Congo seek justice. My most profound hope is that I plead for help—and pressure—for our country so that we can try those criminals beyond the ICC's jurisdiction, especially high-ranking government officials."
ii. "Investigation: The Iturian drama and `victims' before the ICC," Co-authored by Desire Israel Kazadi and Sylvestre Saïdi with contributions from the Canadian human rights organization, JDH (Congolese newspaper `Le Phare'), 7 May 2009, http://www.lepharerdc.com/www/index_view.php?storyID=8628&rubriqueID=13 and http://coalitionfortheicc.org/blog/?cat=1&langswitch_lang=en
"…In Bunia, the local population generally feels that the Court is not communicating enough despite the fact that a section of the Trust Fund for Victims is represented here. `The Hague-based ICC only reaches a few persons within a limited perimeter and its message is not relayed on the ground. Our partnership with the Court is more verbal than practical, and yet without NGOs, the ICC cannot properly fulfill its mission, as it was created for the victims», accuses Angbandia [Gilbert Angbandia, focal point for the national Coalition for the ICC]. In his statement, he alludes to the importance of `intermediaries,' a term that often applies to NGOs because they serve as an interface between the victims and the Court itself. `The Court does not adequately consider our contribution to the fight against impunity which in the end aims to facilitate its work,' Angbandia continues. In addition, he says, the Court is responsible for a chronic `deficit of information' in Bunia about Court proceedings. Some local journalists who analyze the communications strategy of the Court's field office in DRC echo this perspective: `We are given prerecorded communications tools that do not help raise awareness about the ICC among the broader public," says Richard Pituwa, director of the local radio station known as `Canal revelation,' which boasts one of the largest audiences in Bunia. `There should be a way to first ask local opinions about the type of message to be sent and then create an outreach tool that reflects this feedback from the ground,' he says. `What we experience here is the exact opposite of this. Furthermore, the messages we often receive are in French. However, there have been some improvements over the past two years', says this young reporter, who works for a media outlet known for its support for justice. `We have hosted representatives of the Court on our show many times and this helps get the message out, but greater effort is required,' explains Bitu, a co-worker at a local radio station. The Kinshasa ICC field office had no comment in response to this feedback...'
Translation is unofficial and provided by CICC Secretariat.
IV. NEWS REPORTS ON NTAGANDA AND CALLS FOR HIS ARREST, TRANSFER
i. BBC News, Congo ex-rebel working with UN, April 29 2009
"An indicted war criminal is playing a leading role in the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to documents seen by the BBC.
New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Monuc on Wednesday of deliberately ignoring the issue. `We are very worried by this information and it seems to us that the United Nations is acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand,' Anneke Van Woudenberg, the group's senior researcher on DR Congo, told the BBC. `It's time now this is addressed head on. Rather than denying or ignoring the role being played by Bosco Ntaganda, the UN should be actively seeking his arrest and transferring him to The Hague.'
ii. Human Rights Watch, Letter from Parents in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to the UN Security Council, April 22 2009
"...We regret that Bosco Ntaganda, who is sought by the International Criminal Court for recruiting and enrolling children in military service, still remains free and unpunished. It is an insult to the Congolese population that Bosco should be appointed to a high-ranking position in the FARDC. Likewise for Jean Pierre Biyoyo, who currently holds a senior position in our army, even though he was tried and sentenced by the Bukavu military court in South Kivu for the recruitment of children as soldiers."
iii. "What is the ICC waiting for to issue an arrest warrant against Nkunda?" (MJPC) Press Release, 22 April 2009, http://www.i-newswire.com/pr278195.html
"The Mobilization for Justice and Peace in the D.R. Congo (MJPC) today called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant against Laurent Nkunda...`How long would it take for the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo to decide whether or not to issue an arrest warrant against Nkunda?' echoed Makuba Sekombo, Director of Community Affairs of MJPC. `While Nkunda is not the only one who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, the ICC arrest warrant would mark a major step in promoting accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in DRC', added Sekombo."
i."Violence brings reward in the DRC," by Antonis Papasolomontos (Guardian), 5 May 2009,
"...[M]ove south, half a world away from proceedings in The Hague, and that very success [ICC investigations into the various conflicts in DRC as well as Lubanga trial]is being undermined by the rise in prominence of another indicted war criminal who, through short-sighted, quick-fix thinking, has found himself as `deputy co-ordinator' of a UN-backed military offensive against Hutu rebels.
...It's no surprise then that reports emanating from the DRC now suggest what has been feared all along – [Bosco]Ntaganda [Lubanga's deputy in the UPC militia and the ICC's prosecutors claim he was responsible for seven camps where children were trained]is heavily involved in military operations in partnership with the DRC and the UN.
... Just what did the UN think had happened to him? He didn't disappear. After all he turned up to a ceremony and press conference, and it is his faction of the CNDP that is fighting alongside the DRC's army. Just join the dots.
...The complex web of contributing causes of conflict in the DRC – mining abuse, geopolitics, corruption, ethnicity – all need to be addressed. But so does justice. We can't pick and choose when to apply it because there is no lasting peace without justice. Impunity breeds violence. Those new warlords making a name for themselves right now need only look at Ntaganda to see where violence can get them."
iii. "Congo Journal: Interminable Warfare,"Commentry by Lans Gberie, The Patriotic Vanguar (Monrovia, Liberia), 6 May 2009, http://www.thepatrioticvanguard.com/article.php3?id_article=4109
"Whatever may happen to Nkunda is another matter altogether: although there was much talk when I was in the Congo that he may be handed over to the Congolese government to be tried, no one I spoke to seriously believed this will happen, and no one - certainly not the Congolese authorities - was seriously calling for it. Perhaps President Kabila would relish a show trial of Nkunda but he doubtless will cringe at the implication: it would open up demands for more trials...
...But another trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, that of Lubanga in The Hague, appeared to be faltering rather badly....[W]hile I was in the Congo, one of the biggest news stories was of a key prosecution witness, an alleged former child soldier who had claimed to have been recruited by Lubanga, recanting his testimony and blaming international NGOs for setting him up to lie about Lubanga. A few days later this same witness re-asserted his former allegation - that Lubanga indeed recruited him as a child soldier - but the damage was done...."
iv. "Nkundabatware : Kigali veut lui éviter la justice congolaise," by Joachim Diana G.(L'Avenir),
http://www.groupelavenir.cd/spip.php?article24910 (in French)
Today, Kigali seems to have emerged from its shell. There is no question of transferring Laurent Nkunda to a country that has not abolished the death penalty...However; Kigali should favor the possibility of judging the ex-rebel leader in a neutral country....Ordinarily, Nkunda would have joined Lubanga and Katanga and the others at the ICC but as a country that does not recognize the ICC, Rwanda would not think of transferring Nkunda to the ICC. Kigali holds the cards in its hand.
Translation is unofficial and provided by the CICC Secretariat.
v. "ICC doing the job of failed African judiciary," by Roland Abeng, 2 May 2009, http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/-/2558/593228/-/rgkv6jz/-/
"...The ICC is a court of last resort. Its treaty provides that the Court will not interfere with the judicial system of any country if the country is able and willing to try equitably those accused of grievous crimes. The Congolese warlord, Lubanga Dyilo, for example, would not be tried at the ICC if the judicial system of the Democratic Republic of Congo were capable of handling such alleged criminals fairly.The ICC has not replaced viable national efforts. Rather, it helps attain justice where other options are not possible."
VI. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
i. "Difficult Peace, Limited Justice: Ten Years of Peacemaking in the DRC," by Laura Davis and Priscilla Hayner (International Center for Transitional Justice), March 2009, [Chapter 4.2 `Role and Impact of ICC'; Chapter 4.2.1 `ICC's Impact on Children'],
" [Excerpt from Abstract]...The International Criminal Court's engagement in the country, since 2004, is thus quite important. Four Congolese have been arrested under an ICC arrest warrant and transferred to The Hague (one of these for alleged crimes in the Central African Republic, not Congo). Serious crimes have continued during recent fighting, suggesting a limited deterrent effect. However, warlords are aware of the ICC. Its invisible presence has changed their behavior in some ways – such as in their attempts to conceal evidence of ICC crimes. In some cases this has had unexpected effects, such as when warring groups try to hide their use of
child soldiers, making it difficult to demobilize children and for child services agencies to assist them...."
"[Excerpt from Chapter4.2. `The Role and Impact of the ICC']...Observers have criticized the ICC prosecution's strategic approach to the DRC on several grounds. They argue: The Court is not targeting the highest-level perpetrators...Its geographical reach within the Congo is too limited...The Court seems unwilling to prosecute crimes committed by government forces...The charges are too limited...The Court has done little national outreach...."
"[Excerpt from 4.2.1. The ICC's Impact on Children ]"Another surprising effect is related to the impact on child soldiers. As a direct result of the ICC's work, there has been a remarkable change in the understanding and treatment of child soldiers in Eastern DRC....The direct relationship between this new pattern and the ICC arrest of Thomas Lubanga caused children's rights experts to refer to this phenomenon as the `Lubanga effect.' This was well known among children's rights workers in Eastern Congo. Some noted that it made their job much harder, as it became much more difficult to liberate children from armed groups. Nevertheless, the children's rights advocates interviewed for this report concluded that the educational impact of the ICC outweighed these factors, and they saw the overall effect of the ICC's action as positive...."
ii. "Amnesty law for DR Congo militias," BBC, 7 May 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8037891.stm
"MPs in the Democratic Republic of Congo have passed a law granting amnesty to militias in the east of the country. It is the culmination of various deals to bring peace to the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, a BBC correspondent in Kinshasa says. It will include `acts of war' committed since 2003 but does not offer amnesty to those accused of war crimes such as rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. Gen Nkunda remains in detention in Rwanda since his arrest in January...A delegation from the rebel group formerly led by Mr Nkunda is holding talks with government officials in Kinshasa to discuss the implementation of the peace deal..."
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an
indepedent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International
Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization.
The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the
ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome
Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries
and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as
they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or
promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations
before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide
legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local
and other organizations in the course of their efforts.
Communications to the ICC can be sent to:
P.O. box 19519
2500 CM the Hague