ICC: NPWJ and the NRPTT welcome the ICC decision to hold part of the Bosco Ntaganda trial in the DRCr

20 Mar, 2015 | Press Releases

Rome – Brussels, 20 March 2015
On 19 March 2015, Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court recommended that the opening statements of Mr Bosco Ntaganda trial take place in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following this decision, the ICC Presidency will consult with the DRC authorities and decide on this matter in consultation with the ICC judges.
Mr Ntaganda is the former alleged Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Force Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo and stands accused before the ICC of 13 counts of war crimes and five crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri, DRC, in 2002-2003. Bunia is sufficiently close to the majority of victims of crimes and the only location considered appropriate by the Court for security and logistical reasons.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), welcome this important decision that part of the trial against Mr Ntaganda can be held in the State concerned. While the ICC is based in The Hague and all Court situations are far away from there, this is the very first time that the ICC judges have used Article 3(3) of the Rome Statute allowing the Court to sit elsewhere holding in situ hearings. This ruling is an encouraging answer to aspirations to see the alleged perpetrators of crimes to face justice where they were committed and we hope increasingly similar decisions will be taken in the future in other situations before the Court.

“Over the years NPWJ and the NRPTT have consistently advocated that wherever possible the ICC should hold trials or parts thereof in situ in order to bring the Court’s work closer to its key stakeholders, namely the victims of crimes tried before the ICC. This is crucial for the Court to fulfil a great part of its role, which is to deliver a sense of justice to victims of crimes under international law. This decision has the potential to reach out to the affected population in Ituri and to bring meaningful accountability to them. Therefore, we call on the ICC Presidency and DRC authorities to spare no effort to have a positive final decision to hold the opening statements in the case against Mr Ntaganda in Bunia.

“It is of the utmost importance that the ICC Presidency and Registry together with the DRC State find a solution to hold in situ opening statements providing maximum access to a large public. Victims cannot be frustrated in their legitimate desire to see justice being done and the Court should work with the DRC to ensure that the hearings are held in Bunia in a location with sufficient capacity. In addition, live broadcast of the hearings should be made available to reach out to the greatest number of people.

“Finally, NPWJ and the NRPTT urge the ICC to implement effective and sustained outreach activities and media strategies in the country to engage victims and affected communities on the meaning of the opening statements and the Court’s mandate in general. This is a great opportunity for the Court and it should use it to promote understanding of the legal proceedings in the DRC.”

For further information, please contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32 (0)2 548 39 12 or Greta Barbone on gbarbone@npwj.org or +39 06 68979261