ICC: violence in DRC could be war crimes
ICC: violence in DRC could be war crimes

[JURIST] The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC)[official website] released a statement [text] Friday alleging that recent acts of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could amount to war crimes. According to Fatou Bensouda [official profile], the prosecutor, there have been reports of violent clashes between local militia and Congolese forces, particularly in the Kasai provinces. The reports detail large numbers of killings of both civilians and non-civilians. If the reports are true, the killings could be prosecuted as they fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Jurisdiction for the Conglese killings would be granted to the ICC under the principle of complementarity derived from the Rome Statute [text, PDF] which confers on states primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting alleged violent acts within their domains. In a stern warning to the DRC, the prosecutor stated “I further urge the government to resolutely implement and follow-up on the measures announced so that justice is done, and to take the appropriate steps to prevent the subsequent commission of such acts.”

The DRC [BBC profile] has seen ongoing violence for the past several decades, which has led to growing international concern. In March seven army officials were arrested and charged [JURIST report] with war crimes. Last month Human Rights Watch called on [JURIST report] the DRC to investigate the killing of alleged militia which was recorded in a released video. Earlier in February the UN human rights chief urged [JURIST report] the DRC to end violence against civilians. Also in February the UN human rights office expressed concern [JURIST report] over reports that at least 101 people were killed by Congolese soldiers. Last October violent protests erupted [JURIST report] after the electoral commission announced that the next presidential election, originally scheduled for November 2016, would be pushed back to 2018. The commission stated that it needed more time to prepare supplies and voter registration lists. In the beginning of 2016 [JURIST report] former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged African leaders to avoid using loopholes and undemocratic constitutional changes to “cling to power.”