International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Bemba’s Colleagues Arrested for Witness Tampering Sparks an Indignant Response in the DRC

Dear readers – please find below a commentary written by Olivia Bueno at the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) in consultation with Congolese activists.  The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of IRRI or of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

In the early morning hours of  November 24, police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrested Fidèle Babala Wandu, a member of the DRC Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) (the party of Jean-Pierre Bemba) and transferred him to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mr. Wandu is a long time member of the opposition and close political ally of Bemba’s. He served as chief of … Continue Reading

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Q & A with International Criminal Court Registrar Herman von Hebel: Part II

Herman von Hebel is the newly-elected Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He spoke with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2013 and answered questions about his experience at other international tribunals, the Registry’s role in outreach, and priorities going forward.

TS: You earlier mentioned the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). How has this job compared so far to past positions as the Registrar for the SCSL and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon?

HvH: It is interesting because this is the third time I have had the privilege of being the Registrar for such institutions. The amazing thing is that every time it has proven to be a completely different job. Although the title is the same and the … Continue Reading

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Q & A with International Criminal Court Registrar Herman von Hebel: Part I

Herman von Hebel is the newly-elected Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He spoke with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2013 and answered questions about the work of the Registry and its role in providing administrative and judicial support to the ICC. 

Taegin Stevenson (TS): Could you describe how the registry helps to achieve the International Criminal Court’s mandate to end impunity for mass atrocities and how your role as the Registrar helps carry out this mandate?

Herman von Hebel (HvH): Registrar is a very funny title. I don’t think it covers the job very well. If you compare it with national legal systems either where the registrar is a non-existing concept or where it is an existing concept, … Continue Reading

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In Recent CAR Coup, Echoes of Past Violence

Dear readers – please find below a commentary written by Matt Solomon, a student at Fordham University School of Law. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The March 2013 coup in Central African Republic (CAR), removing President François Bozizé from power and forcing him to seek refuge out of the country, is the fourth such violent transfer of power in the country’s post-independence history. This time it was a young coalition of rebel forces, the Séléka, angry over a perceived breach of a ceasefire agreement, who led the charge. The ousted leader is no stranger to armed coup; after all, ten years ago Bozizé himself muscled … Continue Reading

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Q&A With Paolina Massidda, Principal Counsel of the Office of the Public Counsel for Victims at ICC

Paolina Massidda is the Principal Counsel of the Office of the Public Counsel for Victims at the International Criminal Court (ICC). She has represented thousands of victims participating in the proceedings before the Court, right from the first trial the ICC conducted, that of Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga. In an interview in mid August, she explained to the Open Society Justice Initiative how victims’ participation has been shaped by the court over the years, her worries about possible  reviews to victims’ participation, and why the first decision issued by the court on reparations presents challenges. 

Wairagala Wakabi: One trial has been completed by the court and two others are going on. What are some of the positive things in … Continue Reading

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Q&A With Bemba Defense Lawyer Aimé Kilolo-Musamba

On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba started his defense in his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mr. Bemba has been detained at the ICC detention center following his arrest by Belgian authorities in May 2008 and hand-over to the court based in The Hague. Prosecutors charge that Mr. Bemba is criminally responsible, as military commander, of two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crime (murder, rape, and pillaging) arising from the misconduct of his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops deployed in a conflict in the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) during 2002 and 2003. He denies the charges. The Congolese troops were supporting president … Continue Reading

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Bemba’s Lead Counsel Nkwebe Liriss Dies

Nkwebe Liriss, the lead counsel of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s defense team, has passed away in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a statement issued today by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Mr. Nkwebe Liriss’s death is an enormous loss to the court. His sharp legal acumen and dedication made him a highly accomplished jurist. While missing his contributions, the ICC Registry will continue to offer all necessary support to the team that he was leading in order to guarantee a high-level legal representation of Mr. Bemba,” said Silvana Arbia, Registrar of the ICC.

The statement said Mr. Liriss passed away in the Congolese capital Kinshasa on February 26, 2012 “after a long illness,” but provided no other details. A national of … Continue Reading

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Victims Ask to Testify in Bemba Trial After Prosecution Case Closes

Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is likely to hear the testimony of some victims of Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) soldiers’ brutalities once the prosecution case closes.

When the trial resumes on January 18, prosecutors will call their four remaining witnesses, who are expected to complete their testimony during February. Although judges have not yet granted permission to any victims to present in-court testimony, they have indicated that any such testimony would be heard before the opening of the defense case. Up to 1,861 victims are participating in the trial.

Victims’ lawyers last month asked for leave to call 16 victims to testify. However, the defense and prosecutors stated that this number was excessive, and allowing … Continue Reading

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A Year In The Bemba Trial at The ICC

Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial has been on at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for just over one year. This article reviews some of the milestones in the trial of the former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the fourth individual to be tried by the court.

The Charges

Prosecutors charge that Mr. Bemba “effectively acted as a military commander” and “had effective authority and control” over his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops who committed the crimes of rape, murder, and pillaging in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Prosecutors claim although the accused knew his troops were committing these crimes, he did not take “all necessary and reasonable measures within his power to prevent or repress their commission.” Mr. Bemba … Continue Reading

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Judges Explain How Victims Can Provide Evidence in Bemba Trial

Trial judges have issued guidelines for victims participating in the Bemba trial who may wish to provide evidence to the court. Any such evidence will be given before the start of the defense case, and the victims’ lawyers have to file their applications by December 6, 2011.

Judges Sylvia Steiner (presiding), Joyce Aluoch, and Kuniko Ozaki, explained the procedures to be followed by the legal representatives if they wished to seek leave to present evidence or for individual victims to present their views and concerns to the chamber, in an order dated November 21, 2011.

More than 1,860 victims are participating in the trial of Congolese senator Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC) where he faces war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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