From 24 to 31 August 2009, the International Criminal Court’s Outreach Unit visited Kisangani, the capital of Orientale Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This was the third outreach mission to the city, home to the political, military and judicial institutions of Orientale Province, which includes Ituri District.
The Court’s representative spent a week meeting provincial parliamentarians, senior military officers of the Congolese army (FARDC), military and civil judges and prosecutors, lawyers, local journalists, and representatives of NGOs and civil society organisations.
The meeting with provincial parliamentarians, led by the Speaker of the Provincial Assembly, gave the parliamentarians an opportunity to raise the concerns of people affected by cases in the DRC situation currently before the Court. Discussions focused mainly on the length of proceedings, the independence of judges from the Prosecutor, the implementation of arrest warrants issued by the Court, and the impact of the ICC’s actions on the peace process in Ituri.
At the meetings with military officers and members of the legal profession, themed presentations were given in addition to information on the conduct of cases, particularly on issues such as command responsibility, superior orders and the law, the plea of self-defence for military officers, and the principle of complementarity for judges, prosecutors and lawyers.
As with the two previous missions to Kisangani, the Court’s representative in charge of outreach met with journalists and representatives of NGOs. Discussions centred mainly on the progress of cases before the Court regarding the situations in the DRC, the Central African Republic and Sudan. The group expressed particular concern about the failure to execute arrest warrants issued by the Court, the fact that investigations were only being conducted in African countries, the warrant issued by the Court for the arrest of a sitting Head of State, and the slow progress of proceedings.
Generally, the mission provided an opportunity to clear up particular misunderstandings, and to reiterate the following message: [TRANSLATION] “The Court is an independent judicial institution. It is conducting investigations in Africa at the request of African countries, except for the Sudan situation, which originates from a United Nations Security Council resolution. The ICC Prosecutor is in charge of investigations and the judges are responsible for applying the law. The Court expects States Parties to submit to the obligations which they freely entered into on ratifying the Rome Statute”.
For further information please contact Patrick Tshibuyi, Field Outreach Assistant (DRC), on +243 0998011416 or by e-mail at: [email protected]