ICC should remain ready to act if crimes under its jurisdiction are committed in DRC

(Paris, The Hague) Following its precedent report on crimes committed in Kasaï in 2017, an FIDH delegation met yesterday with the Office of Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The delegation urged the Prosecutor to continue to closely monitor the volatile situation in DRC, notably in Kasai, and to consider opening a specific investigation therein subject to the principle of complementarity.

On 21 February 2018, an FIDH delegation met with representatives of the OTP to discuss the Prosecutor’s current investigation strategy and activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in general and in the Kasai province in particular.

The meeting comes after the publication of a fact-finding mission report by FIDH and its member organisations in DRC, the Ligue des Électeurs, ASADHO, and Groupe Lotus, on the serious crimes committed in the Kamonia territory of Kasaï. The mission collected testimonies from refugees who had fled the violence in Kamonia which demonstrate that the grave crimes perpetrated against the civilian population amount to crimes against humanity.

The meeting was also convened in a context where the DRC continues to face political and security instability marked by the rejection of political change, an all-out repression against opponents of the existing regime, and a proliferation of pockets of security instability in large parts of the country.

“The scale and gravity of the crimes committed in the Kasaï province and documented in our report should lead to the opening of a dedicated investigation by the ICC, if no national accountability efforts are deployed. The continuing deterioration of the security and human rights situation in several parts of the country further calls for an intensified vigilance from the Court”

Paul Nsapu FIDH Deputy Secretary General

Fatou Bensouda has addressed the Kasai situation in a statement on 31 March 2017 in which she expressed deep concern over the violence in the province, and reiterated that she would not hesitate to take action “if acts constituting crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC are committed and to take all necessary measures to prosecute those responsible in accordance with the principle of complementarity.” [1] However, since then, Congolese civil society organisations expressed frustration over the lack of public information on what has been done by the OTP .

Against this background, representatives of the OTP assured the FIDH delegation that the Prosecutor is monitoring the developments in the Kasai province with great attention, including any national accountability efforts to identify and prosecute perpetrators responsible for the alleged crimes committed in the Kasai province. The OTP reiterated that the primary responsibility for prosecuting the crimes committed in the country lies with the government of the DRC, and as such, the state’s efforts in this area will continue to be monitored.

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