The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) today welcomed the announcement that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Government has surrendered Germain Katanga, also known as Simba, to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The IBA Executive Director, Mark Ellis, says: ‘We applaud the Government of the DRC in cooperating with the ICC. Its commitment to combat impunity and establish the rule of law is welcomed by IBAHRI. The transfer of Mr Katanga reinforces the status of the ICC as an indispensable judicial institution committed to investigating and prosecuting serious crimes of international concern.’
In 2005 the IBAHRI started a new ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The IBAHRI’s monitoring of both the work and the proceedings of the Court focuses in particular on issues affecting fair trial rights of the accused.
In this regard Mark Ellis further comments: ‘Germain Katanga is the second suspect to be surrendered to the ICC and his case will be the second case to go to trial before the ICC. The IBAHRI urges that due consideration be given to challenges encountered and lessons learnt during the pre-trial phase of the case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. The priority of the Court must continue to be that the suspect is afforded all of the fair trial guarantees enshrined in the Rome Statute and the Rules of the Court, including the right to trial without delay while protecting and safeguarding the interests of victims and witnesses.’
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NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been a State party to the Rome Statute since April 2002 and has been subject to the Court’s jurisdiction since 2 July 2002.
In March 2004 the Government of DRC referred the situation in the DRC to the ICC. The Prosecutor opened investigations into crimes committed within the DRC in June 2004.
In March 2006 an arrest warrant was issued for the leader of the Union Congolese Patriots (UPC) Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who appeared before the Pre Trial Chamber I (PTC I) on its first public hearing of 20 March 2006.
Following the unsealing of the arrest warrant for Mr Lubanga the Prosecutor continued his investigation and concluded that there are reasonable grounds to incriminate a second Congolese militia commander, Mr Germain Katanga, for the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the territory of Ituri, DRC, in early 2003.
- On 2 July 2007, following the presentation of evidence by the Prosecution, an arrest warrant was issued by PTC I for Mr Katanga alleging six counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity committed in Ituri in early 2003.
- Germain Katanga is the alleged former senior commander of the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri-‘FRPI’).
- PTC I found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Katanga, as the highest ranking FRPI commander, played an essential role in the planning and implementation of an indiscriminate attack against the village of Bogoro, in the territory of Ituri, on or around 24 February 2003; and that during and after the course of that attack which was directed primarily towards persons of Hema ethnicity in the village of Bogoro, Mr Katanga along with other militia men implemented a common plan to commit acts of murder, serious bodily harm, sexual slavery of women and girls and other egregious crimes against civilians.
- Mr Katanga was arrested along with other militiamen in March 2005 by DRC authorities following an alleged attack upon MONUC peacekeepers on 25 February 2005 in Ituri in which 9 peacekeepers were killed.
On 18 October 2007, Germain Katanga was surrendered to the Court and transferred to the ICC detention centre in The Hague.
Background to the ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme
In October 2005, the IBA started a new ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme funded by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.
The IBA has a full time representative in The Hague who monitors the work and the proceedings of the ICC, focusing in particular on issues affecting the fair trial rights of the accused, the implementation of the 1998 Rome Statute, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and related ICC documents, in the context of relevant international standards. Input is received from legal experts and other interested parties in assessing the work and proceedings of the Court.
As the ICC does not exist in a vacuum, the Outreach component to the Programme aims to deepen understanding of the place of the ICC both within the broader landscape of international justice and within particular contexts. To this end the IBAHRI works in key countries, particularly regional leaders, in partnership with local organisations to strengthen commitment to international law. Furthermore the Outreach component disseminates information and promotes debate on the ICC through the IBA membership network, while also engaging leaders of Bar Associations and Law Societies throughout the globe to encourage a closer dialogue between their constituencies and the ICC on defence issues.
The outreach component to the IBA's ICC Programme seeks to complement the work of other NGOs and the outreach programs of the ICC. The Programme indeed targets key stakeholders and interest groups beyond the limits of the ongoing situations subject to investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor. As outreach work should not be seen as a one-way process, the IBAHRI submits reports to the ICC on the findings and recommendations of its outreach work and provides feedback from the Court to the stakeholders involved in its field work.