International Community Must Help Reform Congo’s Justice System: Enough Project Report

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–February 17, 2012.  The United States and the international community must strongly support Congolese partners to reform the country’s justice system in order to break the flagrant cycle of impunity and promote accountability, according to a new Enough Project report.

The report, “Time Works against Justice: Ending Impunity in Eastern Congo,” recommends strategies to tackle justice reform in Congo, where a lack of accountability has fostered a war that has killed more than five million people.

“There has never been a systematic attempt to address the issue of impunity within the Congolese justice system,” said Aaron Hall, Enough Project Congo policy analyst and report co-author. “The lack of accountability for war crimes including the murder of civilians, rape, plunder, and extortion is one of the key obstacles to creating an environment for peace and development in eastern Congo.”

The international community should use a multi-pronged approach of state-level conditionally-based pressure and civil society support to ensure Congo implements Specialized Mixed Courts to try international human rights crimes committed in Congo that fall outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, according to the paper.

The international community should also work with local implementing partners to expand the jurisdiction of mobile courts to include economic crimes and the pillaging of community property and natural resources.

“Given the current state of the justice system in the Congo, those Congolese champions who wish to enact reform require international partnership at the onset,” said Annette LaRocco, Enough Project researcher and report co-author. “Otherwise, the obstacles are too great and the resources too few.”

Other recommendations include pressuring the Congolese and Rwandans to arrest indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, who is currently a general in the Congolese army, expanding international and national judicial focus on pillaging of property and natural resources, and supporting Truth and Reconciliation Commissions to allow communities to use traditional conflict resolution methods.

Read the full report, “Time Works against Justice: Ending Impunity in Eastern Congo.”