The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda has expressed concern over the critical situation and recent incidents of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”). She focused particular attention on the events and certain alleged acts that took place in Kinshasa in September 2016, which could constitute crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“Court” or “ICC”).
The ICC Prosecutor stated that she has deployed a delegation from her Office to the DRC. “Amongst those the delegation will meet during its mission from 16 to 20 October 2016 will be official representatives of the DRC, members of political parties, civil society, and the Press,” she said.
According to Madam Bensouda, the goal of the mission is to reiterate her call to all parties potentially involved, and to all Congolese actors, irrespective of their official status or political affiliation, to show restraint, and ensure in particular that they, their supporters, sympathisers and agents refrain, at all times and in all locations, from committing any act of criminal violence against individuals and property, and take the necessary measures to prevent the commission of such acts.
“My Office is closely monitoring the situation on the ground in the DRC, a country where we have been carrying out investigations since 2004,” she stresses. She added, “It is imperative that all activities and actions in the territory of the DRC, irrespective of their actors, nature or form, be conducted with extreme restraint and a sense of responsibility, and that any violent act contrary to the Rome Statute be avoided at all times and in all places.”
She warns that any person who commits, orders, incites, encourages, or contributes in any other way to, the commission of crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court is liable to prosecution. “I will not hesitate to take all appropriate steps to prosecute those responsible in accordance with the principle of complementarity,” she said.
The ICC Prosecutor said her office conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. She recalled that her 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; Burundi; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Gabon; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine,” she said.