ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, meets with President H.E. Joseph Kabila, senior government officials, civil society, CENCO, opposition parties and media in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
I have just concluded my visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). I had fruitful discussions with the Head of State, H.E. Mr Joseph Kabila, and the Congolese political and judicial authorities on important issues such as the situation in the country, the incidents of violence, the status of national judicial proceedings, cooperation and the activities of my Office. I also met with representatives of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), political parties, civil society, the media and other partners to discuss issues relating to the situation in the DRC and the activities of my Office.
This visit follows on my previous statements, wherein I expressed my concerns regarding the critical situation and the episodes of violence reported to me, in particular episodes in Kinshasa, Béni, the Kasaï provinces and other regions of the country. I also expressed my concerns about acts observed on these occasions which could allegedly constitute crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
I thus requested the Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures to conduct genuine investigations so as to shed light on the alleged abuses and bring to justice all perpetrators involved. Indeed, the primary responsibility of national authorities is to conduct genuine investigations to bring to light these allegations, as set out in the Rome Statute, which was ratified by the DRC.
The fight against impunity and the critical prevention of serious crimes under the ICC Rome Statute are essential for social stability. It is vital that effective national proceedings be carried out against those responsible for such crimes, which have disrupted this stability. The appeals made by many victims must be heard so that justice is rendered to them.
I have discussed at length with the national authorities the country’s current situation as well as the status of progress on investigations and national prosecutions against the alleged perpetrators of criminal acts committed in the DRC. The Congolese authorities have made progress in the fight against impunity, and we have taken note accordingly, including in the course of the discussions my Office regularly maintains with the competent national authorities. I therefore commend these efforts and encourage the authorities to further strengthen them so that all those responsible on all sides for these alleged heinous crimes should face justice. My Office shall continue to communicate with the Congolese authorities and other relevant partners within the framework of continuous assessment and strengthening of national capacity and proceedings, in accordance with the principle of complementarity.
The fight against impunity also includes prevention, which is an essential dimension of justice. I invite all stakeholders and parties concerned to continue working so that, during such difficult times, when the risk of grave crimes is very high, adequate measures are implemented to prevent their commission at all costs. This is the responsibility of all, because the commission of crimes under the Rome Statute is not an option. It cannot be tolerated, no matter the motive, the perpetrators or their roles. The Rome Statute is clear on this point, and as Prosecutor, it is my duty to unequivocally recall that any person who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes in any other way to the commission of crimes under ICC jurisdiction is liable to prosecution.
Here on Congolese soil, I would like to reiterate my call to the Congolese authorities and people to do their utmost to prevent and avoid all criminally violent conduct that is punishable by the Rome Statute, under all circumstances and at all times. It is imperative that every action and activity throughout the territory of the DRC, irrespective of their actors, nature or form, be conducted with restraint and a sense of responsibility.
The work of my Office continues in the DRC. We shall keep monitoring the situation on the ground very closely and with great care, and maintain discussions with all relevant parties, including the civilian population, the Congolese authorities, all stakeholders and civil society. We are more determined than ever to support and strengthen efforts and capacity to prevent criminal violence, and we shall not hesitate to prosecute those responsible for atrocities committed in the DRC, in accordance with the principles of complementarity and cooperation set out in the Rome Statute.
The DRC has always offered extraordinary support and cooperation to my Office. I would like to express my gratitude to the Congolese authorities for this support and for their adherence to the principles and values of the Rome Statute, which they have ratified. I am confident that we can always count on the cooperation of the Congolese authorities in our activities in the DRC.
In conclusion, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Congolese authorities and people for the warm welcome extended to us, and to recall my Office’s steadfast determination to pursue its activities in the DRC to fight impunity and bring justice to victims.
This statement was first published on the ICC website.