Judges of Trial Chamber VII delivering their decision on the sentencing in the Bemba et al. case during a public hearing held in ICC Courtroom 1 on 22 March 2017 © ICC-CPI

First ICC witness-tampering sentences for Bemba & associates

In a first witness-tampering trial for the ICC, former Democratic Republic of Congo vice-president and militia leader Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and four associates were today sentenced collectively to nearly seven years’ imprisonment for offenses against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute. Due to time served and suspended sentences, all but Bemba walked free from the Court today. Two fines were imposed to be paid to the Trust Fund For Victims.

In 19 October 2016, the five suspects were found guilty of a conspiracy to exert undue influence on several witnesses, including through monetary incentives and instructions to provide false testimony participating in the original ICC Bemba trial.

In their ruling today, judges sentenced Bemba to one year imprisonment and ordered him to pay a 300,000 Euro fine to the Trust Fund for Victims. The sentence is to be served consecutively with the 18-year sentence Bemba received in his first trial.

Aimé Kilolo Musamba, a member of Bemba’s defense team at the time of the crimes, was sentenced to two years' and six months’ imprisonment. Time already spent in detention was deducted and the remaining term of imprisonment was suspended for three years under certain conditions. He was also fined 30,000 euro to be paid to the Trust Fund for Victims.

Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, also a member of Bemba’s defense team at the time of the crimes, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Time already spent in detention was deducted and the remaining term of imprisonment was suspended for three years under certain conditions.

Narcisse Arido, a defense witness in the Bemba I case, was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment. Time already spent in detention is equivalent to the sentence.

Fidèle Babala Wandu, Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo deputy secretary general, was sentenced in total to six months’ imprisonment. Time already spent in detention is less than the sentence.

The prosecution and the defence may appeal the decision on sentence within 30 days.


Read the ICC press release.


Philippines: Duterte fires back at ICC

Philippine's President Rodrigo Duterte has stated that he is not afraid of any international investigations into his conduct as president. Last week Edgar Matobato, who claims to have been part of a death squad under Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City, said he would submit complaints of crimes against humanity against Duterte with the ICC. 

Duterte welcomed the prospect of being tried by the ICC, alleging that he is on the right track when it comes to human rights. There is mounting criticism from human rights groups over his war on drugs, amid reports that over 8000 people have died since he took office last June. 


DRC: New complaints against Kabila for alleged war crimes

Fresh complaints against DRC President Joseph Kabila have been filed with the ICC by Congolese rights group L' Association pour la promotion de la Démocratie et de Développement de la République Démocratique du Congo (APRODEC). The group alleges Kabila was the ‘moral author’ of crimes perpertrated in the Ituri region in the early 2000s, and urged the ICC Office of the Prosecutor to step up its investigation of the situation.

The DRC has been high on the list for the ICC, with much of the country embroiled in a civil war that has seen atrocities being committed by all sides. Earlier this week, seven officers of the nation's military were arrested and charged with war crimes in the capital Kinshasa, after a video emerged showing soldiers gunning down civilians in the Kasaï-Central Province.


ICC Investigations

DRC: Seven officers have been charged with war crimes by the government, after a video emerged of soldiers firing upon civilians in Kasaï-Central Province.

CAR: President Faustin Touadera has briefed the UN Security Council, advising that more resources were needed to help the nation maintain its hard won stability.

Kenya: The Governor of Kiambu County, William Kabogo, has publicly stated that he believes it would be a bad idea for Kenya to leave the ICC because the court plays a crucial role in ‘putting dictators in check.’

Georgia: The Russian government is looking to conclude an agreement that will see all military from the breakaway province of South Ossetia be incorporated into the Russian armed forces this week.


ICC preliminary examinations

Colombia: UN report concludes that human rights faces huge challenges in the state, especially in rural areas but praises end of war with FARC.

Palestine: A UN human rights experts has issued a report stating that human rights defenders, who are drawing attention to abuses associated with Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, are increasingly being targeted due to their work.


Campaign for Global Justice

Further calls for Sri Lanka to join the ICC have been made by the Northern Provincial Council, which is controlled by the Tamil National Alliance, after they passed a resolution calling for the ratification of the Rome Statute.

Amnesty International has published a report calling on Togo to commit to protecting human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to  peaceful assembly.

The new President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, has met with the EU’s high representative, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, in a show of support for Barrow’s revival of democratic institutions to protect human rights in the West African state.


Around the world

The Human Rights Council has held interactive talks, debating what human rights situations require the council’s attention most deterioration in the human rights situation in South Sudan was directly attributable to impunity.

Human Rights Watch has advised that there may be possible extra-judicial killings going on in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. They claim between four and ten men may have been executed in January 2017 by Egyptian internal security forces.

Amnesty International has submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee recommending that Thailand’s Article 44, which grants extensive powers to the Thai National Council for Peace and Order, be repealed along with legislation that allows for civilians to be tried in military courts.