Driven by the publication of the UN Mapping Report of October 2010, Congolese, international officials and civil society representatives met in Goma from April 6-8th, 2011 “on the establishment of a specialized mixed court for the prosecution of the most serious International crimes committed on Congolese soil since 1990”. Such a mixed court (composed of both Congolese and international members) would endeavor to end impunity, increase access to justice and strengthen DRC’s national judicial system.

The legislation for the creation of the “Specialized Mixed Court for the Prosecution of Serious International Crimes in the DRC” discusses the conditions and practicality of setting up a specialized mixed court for the prosecution of crimes detailed in the UN Mapping Report Exercise.
During the meeting of the 34 Congolese civil society organizations they developed a common position communiqué which begs for more improvements to the drafted legislation, among them:
  1. Bring the jurisdiction of the court up to and including present day; as it stands its jurisdiction extends to 2003
  2. Participation and fair appointment of international staff “to ensure that this presence is robust and effective”.
  3. A dedicated unit responsible for the well-being of victims and witnesses
  4. A positive relationship with established courts, and focus on those responsible for crimes at the highest level
  5. The court will address the complexity and gravity of cases and provide the accused with fair legal representation.

Africa faith and Justice Network (AFJN) is pleased by the presence of the US War Crimes Ambassador, Stephen Rapp, at the Goma civil society gathering. It is our hope that the US will play a constructive role and take this opportunity to support the Congolese people in finally building a foundation for their broken justice system. Most importantly, it is our hope that this special court will send a clear message to the leaders in the region that the era of turning a blind eye to their criminal activities has come to end and local and international laws will be enforced.

AFJN’s advocacy work to keep the UN mapping report on Washington’s radar is ongoing. On April 14, AFJN led a delegation which met with Representative Ann Marie Buerkle from New York, and member of the House Africa Subcommittee to discuss holding a hearing on the UN Mapping Report. We urge our members to call their representatives in the House and the Senate and ask them to support the creation of a special court in DRC as recommended by the UN Mapping Report.