Overview by Emma Bakkum, Research Associate PILPG-NL
Alioune Tine, Director, Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Amnesty International
Karine Bonneau, Head, International Justice Desk, FIDH
Drissa Traoré, Lawyer and FIDH Vice President (Mali)
Mathias Maroub, President of the Central African Observatory for Human Rights (CAR)
Asmao Diallo, President of the Association of Victims, AVIPA (Guinea)
Jacques Mbokani, Professor of Law, Catholic University of Louvain (DRC)
This side event focused on Central and West African states that provide an example of how complementarity between ICC and States Parties works in practice.
The panelists highlighted domestic challenges, such as ongoing insecurity and instability, the lack of political will, and capacity building.
The panelists underlined the importance of complementary justice efforts to provide justice for victims.
Amady Ba, head of international cooperation at the OTP, noted that the ICC truly encourages complementarity.
The CAR Special Criminal Court is not functioning yet due to financial problems and national and international judges need to be appointed. The headquarters are in Bangui and security will be ensured both by national and UN forces. The applicable law is CAR law, but judges will be able to refer to international standards.
Developments in Central and West African states, namely the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, and Mali, provide examples of how complementarity between the ICC and States Parties works in practice. The panelists of this side event highlighted some of the domestic challenges faced by these countries in pursuing complementary justice, especially the lack of political will, capacity building, and ongoing insecurity and instability. All of the speakers underlined the importance of complementary justice efforts in providing justice for victims.
Asmao Diallo discussed the witness testimonies concerning the situation in Guinea. She noted that victims remain insecure and those responsible remain able to intimidate victims to prevent prosecutions. She also noted that the ICC’s OTP is committed to seeking justice in Guinea and often visited and consulted regarding investigations. Drissa Traoré discussed the developments of judicial processes in Mali and highlighted certain challenges, including the lack of political will, insecurity of the judges, and the lack of capacity and resources. Jacques Mbokani then mentioned jurisprudence of the Congolese courts in terms of prosecution of crimes under the Rome Statute. Although he praised the number of cases the courts have completed and the work of NGOs, he noted the need for improvements. A clear strategy for the prosecution of international crimes is necessary, as up until now prosecutions have been carried out in “a sort of haphazard manner”. Moreover, courts should interpret complementarity differently in order to include crimes committed before 2002. Finally, courts should have a higher capacity in order to prosecute “bigger fish” and to strengthen the protection of witnesses and victims. Mathias Maroub discussed the Special Criminal Court in CAR and noted that the persistent insecurity in CAR remains a barrier for the court and discourages victims from seeking justice.
Amady Ba, head of international cooperation at the OTP, added that the ICC truly encourages complementarity. The OTP is working in an efficient manner on complementarity by encouraging political will to ensure national prosecution of international crimes.
Questions were raised regarding the location and security of the Special Criminal Court in CAR, and the applicable law. Mathias Maroub answered that the headquarters are in Bangui and that security will be ensured both by national and UN forces. The applicable law will first of all be CAR law, but judges will be able to refer to international standards. He furthermore noted that the court is not functioning yet due to financial problems and that national and international judges need to be appointed. The last question related to states that prefer to reduce the role of complementarity. Asmao Diallo answered with a call upon states to make sure to prosecute those responsible for crimes wherever they might find them. Victims must be heard and those responsible must be prosecuted. Her colleague added that wanting to reduce the role of complementarity it is the wrong message to send, especially for victims.