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Voices From The Ground: Kasugho, DRC (Second Program)

NOTE FROM EDITORS: Dear Readers, this is the fourth of six installments in a series of vox-pop interviews with people in the Democratic Republic of Congo – who come from the communities most affected by the crimes being prosecuted at the ICC.   Below is an English transcript of more interviews from Kasugho. Relevant photos to the vox-pops and a link to the radio version (in French) on the Interactive Radio for Justice site is located here: http://www.irfj.org/2010/04/2-icc-prosecutor-luis-moreno-ocampo-and-icc-president-sang-hyun-song.  I hope you enjoy reading or listening to these perspectives from the ground about the ICC’s work.


Host: Dear listeners, good evening and welcome to this Vox Pop on international justice. This program is regularly produced by Tayna Community Radio, in cooperation with Interactive Radio for Justice, and is designed to focus on your concerns on justice. More specifically, our Q&A will focus on the functioning and level of knowledge of the International Criminal Court, ICC. During this program two questions were asked to various listeners of Tayna Radio. Their responses will allow us to grasp your level of knowledge on international justice. In order to enrich your knowledge on this particular issue, we have invited experts to participate in order to help you better understand the management of international cases. You may realise that the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more specifically its eastern part, has been torn for a long time and has served as the main playing field of armed groups. For now, the International Criminal Court, ICC, has already issued international arrest warrants against some of those men, some of whom have already been brought before international justice to answer for their crimes. This is why we have faith in our Q&A on international justice and that it will catch your attention.

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Journalist: Assessing the level of knowledge of our listeners on the International Criminal Court, ICC, was the first preoccupation of our analysts. To conduct our investigations, we have roamed around with our microphone among the population, targeting various backgrounds, not only in Kasugho but also at the local university, Vosegha, located 8 kilometres north-west of Kasugho. Let’s first listen to listeners interviewed in Kasugho. Have you ever heard of the International Criminal Court, ICC?

–        1st interviewee: Of course, Mr. Journalist.

–        2nd interviewee: What I have to say is that I have not.

–        3rd interviewee: Never heard of it. We do not follow politics.

–        4th interviewee: I have heard about it. It is like the court in The Hague, which punishes and sanctions criminals.

–        5th interviewee: I heard about it on the radio.

Journalist: After Kasugho, we travelled to Vosegha, located 8 kilometres north west of the village. Here, we could not resist asking whether the population ever heard about the International Criminal Court, ICC. This is what was said:

–        6th interviewee: Concerning the International Criminal Court, ICC, I have some idea but not enough information.

Journalist: Have you ever heard of the International Criminal Court, ICC?

–        7th interviewee: Yes I often heard about it. I think it is the court that sits in The Hague, in The Netherlands, where big international criminals are punished.

–        8th interviewee: We never heard of it. We, the mamas, do not follow politics.

–        9th interviewee: Yes, indeed, the International Criminal Court is the general Tribunal in charge of judicial questions at the international level.

–        10th interviewee: I have some idea. This is where Jean-Pierre Bemba is being sentenced.

Journalist: Hello, miss. Have you ever heard of the International Criminal Court, ICC?

–        11th interviewee: Hello. No I have not because I am not interested in this, especially not in politics.

Journalist: On the same question, intellectuals have also participated. We have established contacts with USNDK, a university in Kasugho. Let’s listen to our approach with some of them:

–        12th interviewee: I know that it is an international court that arrest people, but I do not have enough information on it.

–        13th interviewee: Yes, I already heard about it, but I note that it is a court that essentially targets the most destitute countries, such as African states that suffer a lot, whereas European countries also have leaders, of western countries, who make a lot of mistakes and nothing is done. It is regrettable.

Journalist: Hello, sir. Have you ever heard of the International Criminal Court, ICC?

–        14th interviewee: Yes, we have heard about the International Criminal Court, we even heard about “commission” and about how we can assist detainees at the ICC.

–        15th interviewee: Yes, of course, I have heard about it. I know that the ICC exists. What I can say is that the ICC is here to try offenders and criminals, such as, for instance, Matthieu Ngudjolo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, and others who are there.

Journalist: As we indicated earlier, we always ask experts to intervene during our investigations, in order to provide details on what is said. It is in this context that we invite you to listen to Mr. Sang-hyun Song, President and Judge at the International Criminal Court, ICC.

–        The International Criminal Court is a permanent and independent criminal court, which was created by an international treaty to open investigations and to prosecute persons accused of having committed the gravest crimes affecting the international community as a whole, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC does not substitute itself to domestic justice, it only complements it. It can investigate and, when necessary, prosecute and try persons that the state they are citizens of has not investigated because it does not have the capacity or the willingness to do so. The Court has jurisdiction over three types of crimes: war crimes, such as acts committed on a widespread scale, violating international conventions and customary laws of armed conflicts, such as the conscription of children as soldiers, torture, sexual violence, etc; crimes against humanity, which are crimes committed on a widespread scale against civilian populations, including for instance murder, forced population displacement, sexual slavery or forced prostitution; and genocide, which consists in the commission of criminal acts with the intent to destroy a group on the basis of nationality, race or religion.

Journalist: Concerning the second question, we have followed the same path as for the first, which is to assess the level of knowledge of listeners regarding other personalities against whom the International Criminal Court, ICC, issued international arrest warrants, other that Jean-Pierre Bemba, Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga, Matthieu Ngudjolo, for the crimes they committed. I therefore invite you to listen to the survey conducted among the Kasugho population. Do you know other persons against whom the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants?

–        1st interviewee: Yes, there is Nkunda, Roger Lumbala and many others.

–        2nd interviewee: I’d say that I am ignorant on this topic.

–        3rd interviewee: I do not know these people, maybe you could explain to me.

Journalist: Do you know other persons against whom the International Criminal Court, ICC, issued international arrest warrants?

–        4th interviewee: Yes, aside from these people, I know there are also Laurent Nkunda, Joseph Kony, Bosco Ntaganda, and others.

–        5th interviewee: I do not know them.

Journalist: The village of Vosigha was also the centre of our attention in this matter. Let us listen to the intervention of our listeners, some of whom we met while they were working:

–        6th interviewee: Yes I know some, for instance, Laurent Nkunda, Joseph Kony

–        7th interviewee: We do not know them.

–        8th interviewee: Yes, they are many, such as the CNDP General, Laurent Nkunda, who was in eastern DRC.

Journalist: What other persons did the International Criminal Court, ICC, issue arrest warrants against, besides Jean-Pierre Bemba, Thomas Lubanga, Matthieu Ngudjolo and Omar El Bashir?

–        9th interviewee: Yes, thank you. As far as I know, and I think everyone knows that, there is Mr., Mr. General Nkunda, Bosco Ntaganda, as far as I know.

–        10th interviewee: No, I do not know any others.

Journalist: There are personalities such as Jean-Pierre Bemba, Thomas Lubanga, Matthieu Ngudjolo, but also Omar Hassan El Bashir, from Sudan, who have been arrested by the ICC. Do you know other persons against whom the ICC issued international arrest warrants, aside from these people?

–        11th interviewee: I will answer Laurent Nkunda.

Journalist: During our investigations, we asked this particular issue to students of the Kasugho University, USNDK, including professors.

Do you know other persons against whom the ICC issued international arrest warrants, aside from Jean-Pierre Bemba, Matthieu Ngudjolo, Germain Katanga, Thomas Lubanga, and Omar Hassan El Bashir?

–        12th interviewee: Yes, we have heard about it, but there are others against whom arrest warrants have been issued, but they have not yet been arrested. There are others but I cannot name them just now. This question is quite sensitive for us.

–        13th interviewee: This is exactly what concerns me, it seems the ICC is only here for Blacks, because indeed all these people are Blacks, from Africa, more particularly from Congo, and I do not know any others. I do not think there are any Westerners. This is what makes me think that the ICC was only created to prosecute Africans.

–        14th interviewee: Concerning the Congo, there is Bosco Ntaganda, and we heard there was an arrest warrant against him but not yet executed by the Congolese authorities. There is also Laurent Nkunda, who is under arrest in Rwanda but who is not being prosecuted by the Congolese army. We also have regional leaders, such as in Kenya, where the ICC will indict people following the civil unrest that took place after the elections.

Luis Moreno Ocampo

Journalist: Let us now follow explanations provided by Luis Moreno Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, ICC: 

–        In addition to these five arrest warrants, we have eight pending arrest warrants issued by the Court, which are the following: Bosco Ntaganda for crimes committed in Ituri, Joseph Kony and four other LRA leaders for crimes committed in Uganda. In Darfur, in addition to the arrest warrant against Omar El Bashir, we are prosecuting the former minister Ahmed Harun, as well as Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, who are indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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Host: It was Vox Pop on international justice, which gave you an opportunity to listen to your neighbours’ understanding of this issue. At the same time, you could listen to the explanations provided by relevant authorities concerned with your preoccupation. We thank all our listeners who answered to our questions as well as the authorities who accepted to contribute to the production of this program. Let me remind you that this program stemmed from the partnership between Tayna Community TV-Radio and Interactive Radio for Justice. You can listen to it on your radio on the frequencies in Kasugho or in Goma, as well as on the Internet at www.irfj.org. You may have guessed, this program was presented by your devoted Jean-Pierre Kasere Kamatumo and produced by Trésor Issé. The Sawhili version of this program will be broadcast on 22 April 2010, from 5:10pm to 5:30pm. 

 [Translated and transcribed by Sandrine Gaillot]