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CAR: ICC celebrates Women s Week; Interview of the ICC Registrar and President of IBA on Bemba case; Opinions and other developments
01 Apr 2010
Please find below information about recent developments related to the International Criminal Court's investigation in the Central African Republic (CAR).
This message includes latest news coverage, including a press release issued by the ICC (I); articles on the Bemba case (II), as well as opinions (III) and other related developments (IV).
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.
I. ICC PRESS RELEASE
[This document has been produced by the ICC. The Coalition for the ICC distributes it as part of its mandate to inform member organizations and individuals about ICC-related developments. The document does not reflect the views of the CICC as a whole or its individual members.]
i. "Central African Republic: International Criminal Court joins forces with women to celebrate "Women's Week"," ICC Press Release ICC-CPI-20100315-PR506, 15 March 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/F641E738-A5CB-4470-A3BA-25D154FA71A5.htm
"This week, the International Criminal Court's Outreach Unit took part in two events organised by women's groups to celebrate Women's Week.
The Central African Women's Organisation (OFCA) organised a programme of activities and seminars during the week of 6 to 13 March. The International Criminal Court (ICC) was invited to participate in these events on 10 March. Over 300 women attended. This meeting was based around a presentation on the Court's mandate, role, functioning and activities.
The progress of the proceedings in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was also explained with the support of a film in Sango. This gave Court officials the opportunity to explain to a wide audience the decision taken on 8 March by the judges of Trial Chamber III to postpone the commencement of the trial of Mr Bemba to 5 July 2010. Many women from the OFCA asked questions about how the Court functions and about victims' rights at the Court - rights which had never previously existed at an international criminal court. The leaders of the association extended a warm invitation to the ICC to return very soon for another meeting at the OFCA.
The ICC held another outreach session on 11 March as part of the national conference of the Union of Sisters of the UFEB (Union of Baptist Churches) held in Bangui from 10 to 13 March. A total of 328 women gathered in the Fou neighbourhood of Bangui to meet the ICC's outreach team. This interactive event began with a host of songs on the themes of peace and justice. The audience was then given a talk in Sango about the Court. This gave the Court's Outreach Unit a further opportunity to explain that the commencement of the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba had been postponed to 5 July, and to answer any questions. Lastly, the women were given the floor to express their opinions on what they had just heard about the ICC. The session ended as it had begun, with music and celebration."
II. BEMBA CASE
[Please note that translations are unofficial translations provided by the CICC Secretariat]
i. "ICC, the Registrar Silvana Arbia is definite about it: "the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba is not political" (CPI, la greffière Sylvana Arbia est formelle: « le procès de Jean-Pierre Bemba n'est pas politique. »), La République (DRC), 12 March 2010, http://www.digitalcongo.net/article/65286 (in French)
"'The crimes for which Jean-Pierre Bemba is prosecuted are founded. The charges have been confirmed by the chamber and, during the proceedings, all the parties will bring evidence", declare Registrar Silvana in an interview she gave to Eben-Magazine, in France. ..."The trial of Bemba is not political as some may think. ... Let us wait for the trial that will soon take place. Let me inform you that during this trial, all parties will bring new elements to the judges. ..."
ii. "DRC: the ICC is accused of wanting to eliminate Bemba from the presidential election" ("RD Congo: Le CPI accusé de vouloir écarter Bemba de la présidentielle"), Panapress, 11 March 2010 http://www.afriquejet.com/afrique-centrale/rd-congo/rd-congo:-le-cpi-accuse-de-vouloir-ecarter-bemba-de-la-presidentielle-2010031145694.html (in French)
"On Tuesday, the ICC decided to postpone until 5 July the commencement of the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, which was initially scheduled to commence on 27 April.
On that day, the ICC will examine the admissibility challenge brought by the Defence for Jean-Pierre Bemba. Under the principle according to which "no one shall be tried twice for the same crimes", Mr. Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Pierre Bemba's lawyer, explained on Wednesday to the press in Brussels that his client, who had been tried in Bangui in September 2003, along with Ange-Félix Patassé, former CAR president, had benefited from a dismissal.
The Central African judges had affirmed that Jean-Pierre had only lent his troops, the command of whom was the responsibility of the Central African persons in charge at the time.
Moreover, Bemba's counsels object to the fact that the complaint was filed at the ICC by President Bozizé when it should have been filed by the Central African judicial system.
Thus, the lawyers think Jean-Pierre Bemba is victim of a conspiracy in which Central African President Bozizé and DRC President Joseph Kabila as well as the ICC are involved, to eliminate him from the Congolese presidential election scheduled to take place in 2011."
iii. "Dual Bemba-Moreno: the ICC calls Kinshasa and Bangui upon" ("Duel Bemba-Moreno : la Cpi sollicite Kinshasa et Bangui"), Afrique Rédaction, 13 March 2010 http://www.afriqueredaction.com/article-duel-bemba-moreno-la-cpi-sollicite-kinshasa-et-bangui-46636102.html (in French)
"The high court requested that a summary of the Defence application be notified to the Central African and Congolese authorities. On 25 February, the Defence of J.P. Bemba submitted a challenge related to suspect contacts" between the governments of the DRC and CAR. (.)"
i. The Implications of Ex-President Patassé's Return to Central African Republic", by Bruno Hyacinthe Gbiegba and Marie-Edith Douzima (CAR Coalition for the ICC)/published in Centrafrique Presse , March 2010 - http://centrafrique-presse.over-blog.com/article-les-implications-du-retour-de-l-ancien-president-patasse-en-republique-centrafricaine-47403208.html (in French)
"The return to the Central African Republic (CAR) after six years of exile in Togo has raised a variety of concerns and expectations among the population. His October 2009 return was motivated by his decision to run as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections which are expected to take place in April 2010.
... The return of the ex-president represents a challenge for CAR human rights NGOs conducting outreach on the ICC. They are working to manage victims' high expectations and prepare them for the possibility of not necessarily seeing their alleged perpetrators face prosecution. For many CAR victims, Patassé - not just Bemba - should be held accountable for the alleged crimes committed in 2002-2003. While they are relieved that
Bemba will eventually go on trial they fear that Patassé is out of reach and may never be brought before the ICC.
If the Court decides to prosecute Patassé at election time, his supporters may denounce the Court's involvement as part of a political maneuver to discredit Patassé in the political arena and NGOs' outreach work on the ground would be much more difficult. It is important for the people of the Central African Republic to understand that it is the responsibility of the independent ICC Prosecutor to decide whether to prosecute Patassé. Some human rights NGOs however, believe that the ICC has not communicated enough on the issue, even though part of its role is to clarify any confusion or misinformation among the populations of situations countries. The Central African Coalition and NGOs on the ground are ready to assist the Court, but they need better engagement from the Court in order to do so."
Note: The article is extracted from Africa Update, a CICC bi-annual newsletter focused on ICC developments in relation to Africa. To read this publication, visit: http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/AfricaUpdate_Issue13_final.pdf
ii. "ICC - International Political Court?," K-Concept (blog), 9 March 2010 http://k-concept.over-blog.com/article-cpi-cour-politique-internationale-46381039.html (Video in French)
"Four Congolese are currently detained at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, The Netherlands. The most emblematic case is probably the Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo case.
The trial of the MLC leader looks more and more like a serial with twists and turns. The latest is the postponement of the trial which was initially scheduled to commence on 27 April 2010.
If justice must be made in the cases of each violation of human rights, the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, we must admit, raises concerns regarding the ability of the International Criminal Court to deliver justice in a fair way.
So, is the ICC an international political court?
This is the question K - CONCEPT TV asked Mr. Pascal VANDERVEEREN, President of the International Criminal Bar. ..."
IV. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
i. "Bozizé candidate for his own succession," Jeune Afrique, 16 March 2010 http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20100316081432/paix-opposition-rebellion-election-legislativebozize-candidat-a-sa-propre-succession.html (in French)
"While there are still doubts on whether the presidential election will be postponed, the current Central African Head of State, François Bozizé, officially said he was candidate for his own succession. ..."
ii. "Central Africa: alleged putsch plan," BBC Afrique, 14 March 2010 http://www.bbc.co.uk/french/news/story/2010/03/100314_car_allegedpustsch.sht ml (in French)
"On Saturday, the government announced on the national radio that it had blocked an attempted coup d'état that was scheduled to take place next week. Implicitly accused, former President Ange-Félix Patassé denies having been involved. ..."
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