Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How did the DRC become the ICC’s pandora’s box?

This Friday, Germain Katanga has the ambiguous honour of receiving the third ever judgement from the International Criminal Court (ICC). It comes a decade after Joseph Kabila outsourced his backyard of crime to international prosecutors. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) seemed to be the perfect case file for the newly established court that prosecutes genocidaires, war criminals and criminals against humanity. But the trials in The Hague show the opposite. Congo became the ICC’s Pandora’s Box.

A history.

“Africa has the shape of a gun, and Congo is its trigger.” An ambitious French human rights lawyer cited Frantz Fanon, while striding through the crisp hallways of the ICC. His chief, Luis Moreno Ocampo, had just announced the start of a criminal inquiry into human rights violations in Ituri. It was Wednesday, 23 June 2004; roughly one year after the Argentinean prosecutor took his oath in The Hague. The troubled Congolese province had been on his radar ever since. Just like Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia. But for the latest international justice experiment, Congo appeared to be a convenient and feasible pick.

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