International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Thousands More Apply to Join Bemba’s Trial as Victims

With more than 1,600 victims already participating in the trial of Congolese senator Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC), additional applications exceeding 3,000 are being processed by court organs.

The Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS) of the court on August 26, 2011 informed judges that as many as 2,830 applications were expected to be filed over the course of the coming months. Trial judges Sylvia Steiner, Kuniko Ozaki, and Joyce Aluoch have approved a plan by the VPRS to finalize submission of these applications to the chamber in batches of 200 to 350 by January 13, 2012.

Last July, the number of victims participating in the trial rose to more than 1,600, following the approval of 301 applications. Since … Continue Reading

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Q&A with the Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims Pieter W.I. de Baan

Pieter W.I. de Baan is the Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He agreed to speak with the Open Society Justice Initiative last month and answer questions about the work of the Trust Fund and its role in assisting victims of mass atrocities. This article also appears on websites monitoring the trials of Thomas Lubanga and Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui as welll as the ICC Kenya proceedings.

Jennifer Easterday: What does the Trust Fund for Victims do?

Pieter W.I. de Baan: The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV or Trust Fund) is the first of its kind in the global movement to end impunity and promote justice. It supports activities which address the harm resulting … Continue Reading

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Gone but Not Forgotten: Bemba and Congo’s 2011 Presidential Elections

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

As Congolese head to the polls on November 28, 2011 to elect a new president, the front-running opposition candidate in the previous election, Jean-Pierre Bemba, sits in a jail cell in Schevingen in the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bemba has not, however, taken his incarceration to mean that he should be sidelined and has pushed his own candidacy. The fact that he has done so from an ICC … Continue Reading

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Can Bemba Run For Congolese President From His ICC Jail?

While the International Criminal Court (ICC) strives to get into its custody the two indicted heads of state, one of the inmates in the court’s detention center is bent on becoming his country’s president. How he plans to manage his presidential campaign from his cell in Scheveningen, the Netherlands, remains to be seen. Equally uncertain is whether Congolese electoral officials would permit him to stand in the November poll.

For now, Jean-Pierre Bemba is set on being the presidential candidate for the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). At the weekend, the political party gave him its nod, after he wrote to its top officials beseeching them to name him the flag-bearer. However, there are seeming insurmountable odds stacked against … Continue Reading

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The Doctrine of “Command Responsibility” in the Bemba Case

 Dear Readers – This article is a summary of a paper published by the author in French in the Belgian Review of International Law. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative 

By placing the Jean-Pierre Bemba case in its context, and then in the judicial history of the theory of command responsibility that originated from the Yamashita case, this article addresses some of the shortcomings of the Bemba confirmation of charges decision. More information on the doctrine of command responsibility in the trial of Bemba is available here.

In examining Bemba’s mental state, also known as the mens rea, the article argues that the finding of the Pre-trial Chamber … Continue Reading

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Bemba Fronted For Congolese Presidency in November Polls

Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese opposition leader on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been named by his party as its flag-bearer in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential poll due in late November.

At the time the elections will be conducted, Mr. Bemba, 48, is scheduled to still be on trial at the Hague-based court. He is likely to open his defense in the war crimes trial early next year, and the earliest date judges could announce a verdict is still more than a year away.

Over the weekend, the Movement for Liberation of Congo (MLC), the party that Mr. Bemba founded, announced that he would be their candidate in the elections, where incumbent Joseph Kabila will stand for re-election. … Continue Reading

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Victims Participating in Bemba Trial Now Reach 1,600

The number of victims participating in Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has risen to 1,620 after judges approved another 307 applications last week.

Judges rejected 23 applications, while another 70 applications will be decided upon once additional information is provided. In a July 8, 2011 ruling, the Trial Chamber, presided over by Judge Sylvia Steiner, set September 16, 2011 as the deadline for submission to the court’s Registry of any new victims’ applications for participation in the trial.

Of all trials taking place at the ICC, Mr. Bemba’s has the largest number of participating victims. In Thomas Lubanga’s trial, there are 118 participating victims, while in the joint trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo, judges have granted 365 victims … Continue Reading

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Q&A With ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda: Part II

This is the second part of a two-part interview with International Criminal Court (ICC) Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Deputy Prosecutor answers questions about rape as a weapon of war and how the victims are having an impact on the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Wakabi Wairagala: From the accounts heard so far, and bearing in mind that this is the first case at the ICC where a charge relating to the use of rape as a weapon of war is preeminent, in what ways did the MLC use rape as a tool of war in CAR? How widespread was the problem, and from what witnesses are saying, what was the main motivation for the MLC to carry out these rapes?

Fatou Bensouda: … Continue Reading

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Q&A With ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda: Part I

Fatou Bensouda is the Deputy Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. She has been involved in the prosecution of all trials that are ongoing at the court, including that of former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, which started last November. Prosecutors at the ICC charge that Mr. Bemba’s troops raped, pillaged, and murdered civilians in the Central African Republic during the 2002-2003 conflict and that Mr. Bemba as their commander-in-chief failed to restrain or sanction them. Last month, Ms. Bensouda spoke to www.bembatrial.org about the prosecution’s case against Mr. Bemba and why the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is satisfied with the way this trial is progressing.

Wakabi Wairagala: With the trial having gone on for six … Continue Reading

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Q&A With Marie-Edith Douzima-Lawson, Lawyer for Victims in the Bemba Trial

Marie-Edith Douzima-Lawson is one of two lawyers representing victims who are participating in the trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mr. Bemba, whose trial at The Hague-based court started on November 22, 2010, is on trial over his alleged failure to control his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops, who reportedly raped, murdered, and looted while they were deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and 2003. Earlier this month, Ms. Douzima-Lawson spoke to www.bembatrial.org about the importance of victims participating in this trial and the traumatization of CAR civilians during the conflict in that country.

Wakabi Wairagala: How many victims are there in the Bemba trial and what … Continue Reading

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