In the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most conflict-affected country in Africa, many perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity have enjoyed a good deal of impunity, at least until the entry into force of the Rome Statute on 1th July 2002. The ICC’s establishment has raised hopes that they would be finally punished, even if the impact of the Court has been hampered by Congo’s vast size and successive conflicts, high number of communities which claimed to be victims, complex cooperation with Congolese authorities and limited resources available. Consequently national jurisdiction must play a more proactive role in truth-seeking and in finding the right balance between peace and justice. The adoption of amnesty laws not accompanied by incisive institutional reforms, criminal prosecution and reparation of the victims has not been so far an effective mean to promote peace and reconciliation. Beyond the mixed perceptions of ICC’s impact, it is significant that the accused in ICC’s first trials are either DRC’s nationals or suspects of crimes committed in Congo. Despite the difficulties, that is the evidence that justice is gaining momentum and that perpetrators of past and future international crimes can be arrested anywhere and transferred to The Hague.
Leonardo Baroncelli, former ambassador in the DRC.