Kinshasa - Friday, 14 April 2017 marked the conclusion of a week-long training seminar organised by the National Human Rights Commission ("NHRC") of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ("DRC") in which the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "the Court") participated.
Bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, the purpose of the seminar was to train NHRC investigators from across the DRC. Participants included representatives of the ICC, the component bodies of the NHRC and other Congolese institutions, as well as representatives from the legal profession and academia. The seminar's objectives also included sharing best practices, and exchanging views on ways of transferring skills and information sharing in the fight against impunity.
In his address at the opening ceremony, Mr Michel de Smedt, Head of the Investigations Division of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, thanked the president of the NHRC, Mr Mwamba Mushikonke Mwamus, for inviting the Court to participate in the seminar, and for facilitating a pooling of experiences in the field of investigations. "This seminar for NHRC investigators is further testimony to the vitality of the cooperation between the DRC and the ICC," he told the audience. "Concerted efforts by our respective institutions, with their different but complementary mandates, are needed if we are to pass on a safer world to future generations. In order to roll back impunity, we should all scale up our efforts to develop and implement a coordinated strategy with all relevant stakeholders so as to increase the opportunities for investigations and proceedings."
The NHRC president thanked the Court for taking part in the seminar, and stressed, "the NHRC is a technical and advisory body for the promotion and protection of human rights. Part of its mandate is to investigate all cases of human rights violations. That's why I'm delighted that in our efforts to build capacity amongst our investigators in the areas of justice and human rights to the standard recognised by the international community, our institution has been able to benefit from the ICC's experience and expertise."
The opening remarks were followed by a panel discussion during which participants exchanged views on the state of the fight against impunity in relation to international crimes in the DRC and cooperation with the Court, techniques and standards in investigations, as well as issues related to public information and raising awareness.
The trainers at the four-day seminar shared their experiences of investigative techniques and requirements with the NHRC investigators. The trainers were drawn from representatives of the Court, the United Nations Joint Office for Human Rights, the DRC Attorney-General's Office, the Judge Advocate's Department of the DRC, and legal representatives of victims before the ICC.
This training seminar was made possible through the support and contributions of, notably: the French Embassy, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Institut Français of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations Joint Office for Human Rights, and Freedom House.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur (Sudan), the Central African Republic (two separate investigations), Kenya, Libya, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Guinea, Iraq/UK, Palestine, Nigeria, Ukraine, Burundi and Gabon.