Courtroom Mail has obtained the Statement of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda on the situation in Ituri,Democratic Republic of the Congo. The statement issued on the 4th of June is stated below:
I am deeply concerned by the numerous reports of an escalation in serious violence over the past several months in Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”), particularly in the territories of Djugu and Mahagi.
Credible information indicates there have been many armed attacks on the civilian population. In recent months, these attacks have intensified in several territories in Ituri. There are also reports from the same source of repeated attacks on camps for internally displaced persons and on targeted communities. Moreover, these reports indicate the killing and maiming of many civilians, many of whom are children; abductions and summary or extrajudicial executions; sexual and gender-based crimes against women, under-age girls, and men; systematic pillaging; and the burning and destruction of homes, private property and public buildings.
These acts could constitute crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”).
I would remind all groups and parties concerned that we opened an investigation in the DRC in 2004, and my Office continues to monitor with the utmost attention the situation throughout the territory of the DRC, including the current situation in the territories of Ituri.
I call on all groups and all parties to cease all attacks without delay, especially those against the civilian population, and to refrain from the use of all criminal violence contrary to the Rome Statute of the ICC.
In accordance with the principle of complementarity, which is at the heart of the Rome Statute, and which gives States Parties primary responsibility for prosecuting and trying crimes, I encourage the competent authorities of the DRC to redouble their efforts to ensure a proper investigation is carried out. This will serve to shed light on the alleged crimes, and to bring to justice all the perpetrators and accomplices involved in the commission of the criminal acts recorded in the region of Ituri.
I also encourage the Congolese authorities to continue their determined efforts, with the support of their partners, to protect and ensure the safety of the civilian population and their property, as well as to take appropriate measures to prevent the commission of such acts in the future.
My Office will intensify its contact with the Congolese authorities to reinforce the work already initiated so as to map the incidents which are potentially within the ICC’s jurisdiction, and to exchange experience and information with the authorities on the urgent steps which need to be taken, particularly in connection with the processing of priority cases by the Congolese justice system.
My Office will deploy a mission to the DRC as soon as conditions related to the current COVID-19 health crisis allow.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC’s jurisdiction, namely Burundi; Côte d’Ivoire; Darfur (Sudan); Georgia; Kenya; Libya; Mali; Uganda; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar; and Afghanistan. The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Nigeria; the Philippines; Ukraine; and Venezuela; whilst the situation in Palestine is pending a judicial ruling.