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Prosecution of grave violations of human rights in light of challenges of national courts and the International Criminal Court: The Congolese dilemma.

Katshung, Joseph Yav
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Human Rights Review. 7(3): 5-25.

The war in the DRC has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis
with over 3.4 million displaced persons scattered throughout the country. An estimated
4 million people have died as a result of the war. The most pressing need to be
addressed is the question of justice and accountability for these human rights atrocities
in order to achieve a durable peace in the country and also in the Great Lakes
region. It is particularly true in post-conflict situations where justice systems have
been either partially or completely destroyed, that national courts are not capable of
arriving at a uniform stance, or willing to provide justice for atrocities in the immediate
future. As a result, international justice seems to be a crucial and last resort that
must continue to be fortified against efforts to undermine it. However, even if the
ICC achieves its full potential, it faces a number of challenges. Firstly, it is realistically
not able to address all situations in which national courts are unwilling or
unable to prosecute perpetrators. Secondly, there are temporal and other jurisdictional
limitations on what cases the ICC can hear. Accordingly, the ICC will only
have the power to try people accused of the gravest human rights violations committed
after 1 July 2002; the date the Rome Statute which established the ICC took
effect. As a result, only a small number of individuals responsible for the atrocities
committed will be tried by this Court. Thirdly, is the establishment of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC), one of the civilian institutions that emerged from
the peace talks, meant to end impunity or to cover up gross violations of human
rights committed in the DRC? It remains to be seen how it will function and interact
with the courts. (Excerpt).


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