International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Congo

ICC Upholds Acquittal of Former Congolese Rebel Leader

Mathieu Ngudjolo, former leader of the Congolese rebel group, Nationalist and Integrationist Front, was once again acquitted on Feb. 27, 2015. He was charged with commanding a militia of fighters who in 2003 destroyed the village of Bogoro (eastern Congo) and in the process raped and hacked to death roughly 200 people including children.
The prosecutors on the case felt that there were errors on the parts of the judge’s during the first trial and that they had been denied a fair trial because, in part, they were not permitted to cross examine witnesses with Ngudjolo. The decision was ultimately upheld because the ruling judge felt that the errors did not affect the outcome of the acquittal.
The Ngudjolo case was important because it was only the second case the ICC handled and the first acquittal.
More can be read about this here.

Bemba Denied Interim Release By ICC: Justice for Victims?

Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, has recently made an appeal to the ICC appeals chamber, after being denied interim release late last year. Bemba has been in the Hague since 2008 on charges that his failure as the MLC commander-in-chief to stop or punish his soldiers responsible for committing atrocities against Central African Citizens resulted in murder, rape, and pillaging. He denies such charges. These crimes occurred between 2002 and 2003, and the last oral hearings occurred at the end of last November. However, Bemba faces a new trial on the charge of corrupting and influencing witnesses.

In light of these accusations, Bemba had not been granted interim release. A pre-trial judge in January of this year if judges in the main trial also allowed for his release, as Bemba has spent this entire time separated from his family, party, constituents, and country for six and a half years. This is unusual, according to Bemba’s defense attorney, arguing that other accused political leaders held at the ICC have been given interim release so that they could tend to their political duties. While the prosecution opposes Bemba’s release out of the fear that he will flee, harass witnesses, or obstruct proceedings of the court, the defense for Bemba argues that he no longer needs to appear in court, and that if released, he would not pose a danger to witnesses or victims of the crimes he is accused of. What is interesting is that the defense is proving that Bemba does not pose a danger through the fact that no victim or witness had made any claim that Bemba had interfered with or threatened them or their families in any way.
What does this denial of interim release by the ICC mean? As Bemba’s defense notes, the ICC has granted interim releases to other political indictees so that they could carry out their duties at home. Is there something special about Bemba that is preventing the ICC from granting him interim release while the proceedings carry on? Or is the ICC taking steps to prevent accused perpetrators from being able to return to their home countries after being charged with atrocities? Is this a step toward more justice for victims, by not letting the accused return home to carry out their duties as leader? Or is this injustice to Bemba, as the defense argues that he has posed no danger to the victims and witnesses?

For the full article, click here

Cell Phones, Sexual Violence, and the Congo

It’s not often that the West directly addresses its own fault in perpetuating the violence in the Congo. But at a recent United Nations event, held on International Women’s Day but the Enough Project, directly addressed the relationship between the Cellphone industry and sexual violence in the Congo.  The panel, which included the U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura as well as the Chair of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition Tim Mohin, addressed the connection with the consumer electronics industry, the mining industry, and the continuous conflict in the Congo.  About17% of the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo is economically dependent on the mining industry. The money from mineral exports has continued to fuel the war, which is known for its high levels of sexual violence.

 

The conflict metal in question is tantalum, used in many consumer electronics, particularly cell phones. According to Mohin, the first hurdle is awareness in the industry itself, which has so many different components of the supply chain that many company decision makers know very little about where their products are sourced from.

 

EICC has already been working to establish a “conflict-free smelter program” that identifies which smelters in the DRC only use conflict-free minerals. While it has already established 75 conflict free smelters, that only represents a small fraction of the entire mining industry. The larger, more difficult problem, remains that there is not a large enough supply of conflict-free minerals.

 

This problem is a difficult one to tackle, but this represents a different approach to a now decades-old problem. Not only did the panel seek to address the specific problem of sexual violence in the Congo, the focus on organizations such as the EICC demonstrates a willingness to look at the situation from the point of the view of the true source of the problem. Rather than stemming the violence through arresting rebel leaders, we can look at where their resources to continue the fighting are coming from. If a solution in which the demand for minerals that come from conflict regions decreases in such a way that there is no more capital and weapons inflow to the Congo region, they will have no choice but to stop fighting.

 

That being said, this true-source type of solution is much easier said than done, particularly in a “free market economy” and regarding a mineral so limited in where it can be mined. However, the panel marks an important step in recognizing how related Western consumers are to the conflict.

 

Source: 

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/ending-sexual-violence-cellphone-consumer-electronics

ICC Finds Congolese Warlord Guilty of Minor Charges, Cleared of Major Ones

The ICC finally handed down its second verdict, finding former Congolese Warlord Germain Katanga guilty of being an accessory to crimes against humanity, including being an accessory to murder and pillage. A large part of the conviction had to do with his supply of arms and munition to commanders who allegedly led the massacres in the Congo in 2003 that led to hundreds of civilian deaths. However, the ICC judges were not able to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that Katanga himself was responsible for orchestrating and leading the massacres, hence the  conviction of “accessory” rather than “perpetrator” of crimes against humanity.

What’s good about this?

It’s nice to finally get another conviction from the ICC, particularly in this case. Katanga’s counterpart, initially tried as a co-perpetrator but then split off into his own case, Mathieu Nngudjolo Chui, was acquitted in December of 2012. Sentencing has yet to occur, but several groups have already touted the conviction as  providing a measure of justice to the victims of the violence that has wracked the Democratic Republic of Congo for over a decade.

What are the problems?

1. The severity of the verdict.  In addition to only being found guilty of being an “accessory”, Katanga was acquitted of several more serious crimes, including use of child soldiers, rape, and sexual slavery. The lack of a conviction on the front of the sexual violence accusations is particularly disappointing, given the prevalence of sexual violence and rape in these types of crimes. Many were hoping that a firm ICC conviction on sexual violence could be an important step in addressing its role in mass violence.

2. The changed charges. Katanga was initially charged as a “co-perpetrator”, which was changed to “accessory” only recently. The defense and several critics of the verdict claim that the defense did not have time to adequately prepare for the changed charges, which affected their ability to defend Katanga in court. The defense is planning on appealing Katanga’s case on these claims.

3. The quality of ICC investigations. Many critics of the verdict claim that the prosecution was not able to build a strong case against Katanga because their investigation was not thorough enough.  Phil Clark, an expert on the ICC from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, says that “the ICC has been doing its investigations on the cheap. It’s been using a really small group of investigators who haven’t spent an enormous amount of time in Congo. The prosecution has cut corners, they’ve used local Congolese intermediaries to do a lot of their dirty work. And as a result of that these cases haven’t been systematically built.”

This is, of course, a problem that speaks to the fact that the ICC both lacks funding, and depends entirely on cooperation from the states that it is conducting investigations in. It is difficult to see how stronger investigations can be built without substantial increases in funding.

Looking forward

While this verdict is an important advancement in the world of international justice, there is still much work to be done. This is only the second verdict in 11 years, and this trial alone has been ongoing for six years. The violence in the Congo continues to rage despite the ICC’s efforts in the region. Human Rights Watch has called upon the prosecutor to publicly commit to more investigation in the region, in hopes that it might eventually have a real impact.

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/03/icc-finds-congo-warlord-guilty-war-crimes-20143710653535396.html

http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/07/icc-congolese-rebel-leader-found-guilty

http://www.voanews.com/content/icc-to-deliver-verdict-in-dr-congo-war-crimes-case/1866179.html

http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/164239/international-criminal-court-convicts-congolese-warlord.html

Acquittal of Congolese militia leader poses challenge to the ICC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20766597

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, who had been charged with seven counts of war crimes and three of crimes against humanity in the DRC, has ben acquitted given that the Court failed to find evidence “beyond all reasonable doubt” that he was guilty of those crimes.

Human rights organizations have complained about the implications of his acquittal, and said this would leave the victims of his forces’ crimes without justice. They emphasized on the importance that the ICC strengthen its prosecution, given the length, cost, and many times poor effectiveness of their investigations. However, this acquittal by the ICC is also a sign that there fairness and the rights of the accused are a concern for the court.

The forces commanded by Ngudjolo Chui were responsible for numerous mass atrocities, including mass murder, rape, torture, dismemberment, etc. One particularly striking detail, “it was alleged that Lendu and other fighters used cannibalism to terrorize civilians who’d become inured to violent death during the war.” (CSMonitor)

Being the leader of such a lethal force, it is surprising that the ICC was not able to find sufficient evidence for his role as deliberate planner/executioner of these crimes.

An interesting look at the “Hobbesian state of war” in Congo

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/16/magazine/congo-color.html?ref=africa

Photographs like the one below, portrayed in full splendor in the New York Times website, shift our vision of the war torn Goma, Congo, into a more colorful one. These photographs were shot under an infrared lens, symbolic of the use of infrared vision during war to detect camouflaged soldiers. The plethora of pink in these photographs definitely contrasts with the gravity of its content.

Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 3.50.11 AM

 

What is the role of the international community?

Earlier this month a rebel movement known as M23 seized control of the city of Goma in the eastern Congo. In a New Yorker article, a reporter talked to a Congolese man who discusses how he believed that many of the problems in the Congo stem from there history with the international community, namely the intervention of the outside world without a full understanding of the problems faced by the people there.

This article highlights an interesting issue in the topic of international justice, obligations of the international community. Although many people believe that the international community has an obligation to help countries that are being ravaged by war, does it really? From the comments of the Congolese man, it would appear that they don’t. Maybe the international community should consider allowing countries to deal with things on their own. Given the varying degree of ideas on justice throughout the world it may be best to protect sovereignty by allowing countries to handle issues on their own. Although this may seem like an odd stance to take on international justice, it is one that should be considered. Globalization and modern technology has brought the world closer together, making everything more intertwined, but is this really a good thing?

Here is the link to the article: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/11/outraged-in-congo.html

U.N. Peacekeeping in the Eastern Congo

This article offers an interesting insight into the myriad difficulties faced by U.N. military intervention, specifically in the Eastern Congo. As highlighted in the article, MONUSCO has repeatedly failed to protect the civilian population as per its mandate-the most striking example involved rebels decapitating civilians and parading their heads in front of an apathetic peacekeeping force. The litany of failures by MONUSCO is appalling, as per the article:

In 2005, MONUC (the former name for MONUSCO) expelled 63 of its soldiers for paying refugee children for sex. A separate internal inquiry the same year found that Pakistani peacekeepers sold weapons to militias in exchange for gold. While those incidents may be exceptional, TIME has seen in repeated trips to eastern Congo how, at the first sign of trouble, blue-helmet peacekeepers habitually barricade themselves into their bases, leaving crowds of several thousand refugees who tend to gather outside to fend for themselves.

Given the fairly obvious failures of the U.N. peacekeeping force to protect civilians, does it instead make more sense to focus efforts on alternative means of support? A large majority of the authors read and discussed thus far are concerned with rebuilding societies after conflict and devastation have occurred, not during. Given the inability of the U.N. to protect civilians through peacekeeping forces, what other means can be employed, or is it simply a matter of reforming MUNESCO?

How Much is £21 Million Worth?

Amidst delays in M23’s scheduled exit from Goma, and M23’s denial of being backed by the Rwandan government Britain–the largest bilateral donor to Rwanda–has decided to withhold £21 million in aid payments.  President Kagame and Rwanda’s economic and social recovery from the genocide has been widely praised by the international community as a remarkable role model for development.  This recovery has been heavily backed by donor funds, such that Rwanda has been termed by some a “donor darling.”  

Under these conditions, the international community has largely ignored President Kagame’s more authoritarian practices, such as repression, imprisonment, intimidation and murder—justified by Kagame as necessary for Rwandan unity and to prevent a return to ethnic divisionism. It is evidently harder for the international community to ignore the relationship of Rwanda with the abuses of the M23, led by ICC indicted Bosco Ntaganda.  Akhavan argues that stigmatization can alter the cost-benefit analysis of continued conflict (Sudan stopped backing the LRA after ICC arrest warrants).  The rosy view of Rwanda has been marred by its involvement with M23 and Britain is justly putting the pressure on Rwanda to decide whether it is worth £21 million to continue backing M23.  The cost-benefit analysis has been altered for the Rwandan government and if they decide the price is too high, M23 may do so as well. 

Why is the World Ignoring the Congo War?

I recently read an interesting article on the CNN website in which the journalist poses the question: why has the world been ignoring the war that has been going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Initially, I thought she was going to solely discuss the conflict that is currently taking place in which the M23 rebels from Rwanda seized the city of Goma. However she discusses the wars that have been going on for 12 years that “have claimed nearly the same number of lives as having a 9/11 every single day for 360 days, the genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansing that overwhelmed Bosnia in the mid-1990s, the genocide that took place in Darfur, the number of people killed in the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and the number of people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—all combined and then doubled.” I was absolutely shocked because I wasn’t even aware that all of this had occurred and is still happening to this day. She further emphasizes the absence of these wars in the media by contrasting the coverage of the situation that is happening right now, in which the M23 militia is terrorizing the local population of Goma with the conflict currently going on in Gaza. That ongoing story has been front-page news since the first airstrike, while very few people are aware of what’s going on in the DRC.

So the question is really what is causing the disparity in news coverage? Is there something in particular that makes one story more newsworthy than other? Vava Tampa, the author of the article asks several follow up questions: “Is it due to the geographical or cultural distance between London or Washington and Congo? Or are Western media just reluctant, if not uninterested, to cover it because no Western interests or ally is endangered by it? Would the coverage the situation in Congo receives be the same if it was happening in Europe or if Congo spoke English rather than French? What if Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or his disciples were implicated in funding murderous militia gangs in Congo? Or if the killing was between black Africans and Arabs? Or if minerals funding Congo’s killing and raping industries benefited the East more than the West?”

Whatever the case may be, it is glaringly obviously that more attention needs to be brought to “the killing, raping and looting that have thus far claimed over 5.4 million Congolese lives, and continue to leave 1,100 women raped every single day, could continue to unfold undetected by the camera lenses of Western media and excluded from Western political agenda.”

It is clear that the conflicts that have been ongoing in Congo have all of the qualities of front-page news, i.e. millions of deaths, rapes, and terrorism, so my questions are what is preventing it from garnering international attention and what must be done to rectify this?

Rebels Withdrawing from Mashake in DRC

The news that the M23 rebel group is withdrawing from Mashake, part of the area they’ve been holding since last week, was just released: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/11/2012112853843823929.html

The article states that “‘M23 themselves are saying they want a demilitarised zone around Goma. They’re very concerned that people who’ve been working with them in the city will be targeted once they leave, if the Congolese army comes in.'”

However, they are refusing to withdraw from Goma until they’re satisfied with the terms of the agreement with the DRC government. The withdrawal deal that is underway is supposed to contain terms for a neutral zone around Goma, decide who will have control of the Goma airport, and “how to set up a proposed international neutral force for DR Congo”.

It will be interesting to see if these terms are enough to satisfy M23 and enough to prevent retaliation from the Congolese army in the areas previously occupied by M23.

Violence and Chaos Return to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Today’s article in the New York Times on the Congo provides much material for discussion. The tradition of violence and chaos, according to Jeffrey Gettleman, continues in the DRC as the M23 rebel group continues to seize control of the country. The prison of Goma has been emptied, giving freedom to 1,200 rapist, murderers, and rogue soldiers.  Moreover, M23 kidnapping is used to punish any spoken resistance, says Luke, a local un-employed man. The M23, however, is not the sole root cause of the widespread violence in the DRC.

President Kabila has also played a role in the chaos of Congo. His administration has been one of corruption and inefficiency. According to Gettleman, “During the [Kabila] [re]-election, his agents were caught red-handed stuffing the ballot boxes. His unpopularity is due to suspicions on him “hoarding millions if not billions of dollars from mineral deals” while leaving infrastructure of the Congo a “fiasco.” This unpopularity has resulted in widespread mobs and riots throughout the city. President Kabila’s clear monetary distraction is more clearly evident in his pursuits of the notorious Ntaganda, otherwise known as “the Terminator.

Ntaganda, who the ICC has issued two arrest warrants for, continues to be a severe issue in the DRC. As a main leader of the M23, he represents an important target in order to end the reign of the organization. Fortunately for him, the incompetence of Kabila as well as several other factors have resulted in his continued freedom. With persistent financial support from Rwanda, Ntaganda has lead the M23 rebel group to an almost unstoppable position; “the government army unraveled” at each battle against the rebel group.

“Few counties in the world have been as disastrously ruled in the world as Congo,” says Gettleman. Despite exhausted efforts nothing seems to bring the Congo from its perpetual state of violence and chaos. In fact, Gettleman touches on this theme when he states: “deep wounds of past, unhealed, produce new violence.” For whatever reason, Congolease citizens are not satisfied with past peace efforts and transitional justice, and have decided to take matter into their own hands. This is demonstrated through two forms of violence: organized and unorganized. Organized, of course, being the M23 rebel group who seek to dramatically alter the Congolese government; unorganized being the widespread mobs and riots occurring throughout the country.

With every option justice and reconciliation seeming to fail, what other options can the DRC seek in order to end this trend of violence and heal the deeply entrenched wounds of the Congolese citizens?

“The Case for Justice” by ICTJ

This video from the International Center for Transitional Justice makes the “case for justice” by highlighting different examples of countries in transition from violence (e.g. Colombia, Egypt, DRC, Uganda, Cambodia, etc.) and where there are impunity gaps.

  • What arguments does ICTJ make for why justice is necessary?
  • What are the different obstacles to accountability across the cases?
  • How does ICTJ’s conception of “justice” compare to those we discussed in class and in the assigned readings?

Justice News

Here are a few news stories on international justice that caught my attention this week. Feel free to respond with questions and thoughts, or start a new post on one of the individual news stories.

COLOMBIA

Colombia milita boss ‘Martin Llanos’ confesses murders (BBC)

The Colombia government will soon begin peace negotiations with the FARC rebels who have rivaled the government for territory and power for decades. Justice issues are likely to figure prominently in the negotiations and particularly whether there will be some measure of amnesty to ensure stability and land reform policies for victims. Many parties are guilty of crimes in the Colombian conflict, ranging from leaders of left-wing rebel groups and right-wing paramilitary groups, and government officials. The ICC has Colombia under ‘preliminary investigation’ – the Court and local civil society continue to pressure the government to ensure robust accountability for all parties to the conflict.

LIBYA-ICC

No winners in ICC-Libya Standoff (Foreign Policy)

International Criminal Court Debating Where Moammar Gadhafi’s son should be trip (WaPo)

There is increased tension between the ICC and the new transitional government in Libya over who gets to try Saif Gaddafi (son of late Libyan leader Moammar Ghaddafi) and Senussi (former intelligence chief). Libyan authorities claim that are both willing and capable of trying him, which is allowed under the “complementarity” provisions of the Court’s Rome Statute. The former Chief Prosecutor publicly preferred the trial stay in Libya, but it’s up to the ICC judges and not the Prosecutor. Gaddafi and his lawyers prefer an ICC trial, arguing that a fair trial in Libya is not possible and he would also get the death penalty there.

As Kersten argues in his FP article, this is potentially bad for the credibility of both the ICC and the transitional government in Libya.  The article is also a great background piece on on all the turmoil in he ICC-Libya case.

KENYA-ICC

President Uhuru Can’t Face ICC Trial (The Star)

Kenya AG Praises Bensouda, Blasts Ocampo (Capital FM)

Two candidates for Kenya’s upcoming presidential election are facing charges by the ICC – Kenyatta and Ruto. Both, along with two others, are accused of inciting and planning the violence that followed the disputed results in the last presidential election in 2007/2008. While all the accused have so far cooperated with the ICC, the Kenyan government continues to seek a deferral of the cases and challenge whether candidates and potentially a new president should face an international court. Re the first article, state officials have no immunity from prosecution for crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc. So a potential President Kenyatta could still face the ICC regardless of what the Kenyan constitution says.

RWANDA

Amnesty Reports Unlawful detentions in Rwanda (VOA News)

The Rwanda government continues to be at odds with international human rights groups who accuse the semi-authoritarian regime of repression in various forms. In this recent report, Amnesty highlights the unlawful practices of torture and illegal detention that the government has allegedly practiced to eliminate threats. Undoubtedly, there are threats to regime stability in Rwanda. But the government continues to act with impunity with regard to serious violations of human rights at home and in neighboring Congo.

NEPAL

UN Decries Impunity for Nepal War Crimes ((AFP)

The HRC just published a report, detailing the crimes and failures of accountability in Nepal’s civil war. is one instance, among many, in which the UN Human Rights Council can pressure states on transitional justice through naming and shaming. Typically, the UN commissions an investigation into abuses and publishes a report of this nature prior to the international community setting up a tribunal or other mechanism.

DRC-ICC

Congolese warlord Lubanga appeals (News 24)

Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, was convicted this year by the ICC on child soldiers charges. He is now appealing his sentence whereas the Chief Prosecutor would like a longer sentence. Many believe Lubanga should have also been charged with other serious crimes related to acts of sexual violence and massacres.

Troops loyal to ex-rebel leader Ntaganda take over towns in Congo

Thousands of people are fleeing from their towns in Congo in order to avoid the “Terminator” take over. The “Terminator”, a rebel troop in support of the ex-rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes is taking over Congo towns one by one. In the fight the  government troops were pushed out of towns of Mukashe and Rubaya by the rebel group. Report say that the rebel group contains between 400 to 500 soldiers that deserted their Congolese army base earlier this month.  Ntaganda was the former chief military operations for the Congolese UCP  rebels but current President Kabila refused to arrest him because he believes that it would disturb the DR Congo peace. Kabila called for his arrest earlier this month but he says he will not turn him over to the International Criminal Court.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17893674

Lubanga’s convicted! So what now?

It is always easy to discuss the violent part of a crisis and even the legal proceedings which follow.  There exists a level of uncertainty that excites us that are so far removed from the actuality of the events.  Congo is one war torn country that has seen a major perpetrated brought to justice but despite the conviction of Thomas Lubanga there is no immediate revival of “normal” life within the Congo. 

The ICTJ released an article http://ictj.org/news/reparations-and-lubanga-case-learning-transitional-justice discussing the future for reparations for victim and reminding us that, “Article 75(I) of the Rome Statute requires the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “establish principles relating to reparations to, or in respect of, victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation” for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity”

The article is rather vague insofar as there is only so much precedent for the management of reparations and each country has a different set of cultural standards which make transitional justice so difficult.  That said I would like this post to open up thoughts on how the ICC should progress with regards to reparations in the Congo and how the Congolese government should reach out to the victim communities.  Naturally this topic can expand to the management of reparations as a whole.

 

President Kabila Calls for Ntaganda’s Arrest

On Wednesday President Kabila of the Congo has called for General Ntaganda’s arrest along with the other soldiers under his command that defected. Despite the ICC’s six year arrest warrant, Kabila wants to try the General in the Congo in Goma where he had committed many of his crimes. He states that he is not an instrument of the international community and he is doing this on behalf of the security and peace of the region.

There has been no statement from the ICC in response to trying Ntaganda in the Congo, but I’m sure there will be some conflict about the subject. Because the Congolese government has protected Ntaganda up until now, I have my doubts (and I’m sure the international community will as well) that a trial in the Congo will be a little more than a show trial. Also, there has already been threats from Ntaganda’s Tutsi support base that an arrest will upset peace agreements. With these potential problems, the ICC would probably conduct a fairer trial and make appropriate judgements. On the other hand, perhaps it might be a positive step to let the Congolese government try Ntaganda as localized justice is always more effective if conducted correctly. If the Congo conducts a successful trial, this would be a huge step for them as a country, and stopping the pattern of impunity themselves, and making the ICC truly a last resort.

Do you think that Ntaganda should be tried in the Congo? Or perhaps given the chance and then have the ICC step in if they aren’t successful?

http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/congos-kabila-says-arrest-wanted-army-general

Lubanga Convicted!

In a unanimous decision, the ICC convicted Thomas Lumbanga for the conscription of child soldiers and using them for fighting and as sex slaves. This is certainly exciting as this is the ICC’s first conviction, illustrating, despite delays hold ups, they can still be effective in prosecuting and convicting those who have committed war crimes. Several criticisms, however, is that in the investigation stage there was a lot of use of unreliable evidence and that other co-perpatrators should also be brought before the court, including Bosco Ntganda, who has been incorporated into the Congolese army.

What is certainly positive, however, is that this conviction sets precedent for the war crime of enlisting child soldiers. Precedents set standards and act as a guide to how to prosecute those who have committed similar crimes. Precedents, however, also set standards that can be debated, as precedents of Supreme Courts are debated.

Here are some articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/14/congo-thomas-lubanga-child-soldiers

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17364988

Pillage: US Legislation on Congo’s Conflict Minerals Delayed

A recent VOA news article explains why US legislation on Congo’s conflict minerals has been delayed. An excerpt:

“Any delay or phase-in of the law would seriously undermine the aim of the law which is to create greater transparency and accountability over the trade in conflict minerals and therefore help reduce the violence that is being driven by these minerals,” said Gilfillan (Global Witness)

The aim of the law is to force thousands of companies that report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and obtain minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and nine neighboring countries to reveal the sources of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold they use….”

Interestingly, the quotes at the end of the article reveal disagreements over whether the conflict is inherently driven by greed or politics.

Soldiers on trial for Congo mass rape

Soldiers on trial for Congo mass rape

11 soldiers on trial on accounts of mass rape in the congo. They are being tried for the rape of atleast 35 women. According to BBC news, the soldiers decided to take revenge on the people of the community because a mob lynched a soldier. The UN took notice of this attack and immediately took action. The trial is in process. I think this is a noble step forward for the UN to step in and bring justice to these women. Usually you would not expect a crime of this number to be noticed by the UN.