DRC: 2,500 new magistrates trained in the investigation and prosecution of international crimes
During September and October 2023, TRIAL International trained hundreds of newly recruited magistrates in the investigation and prosecution of international crimes. This training follows the recruitment of 5,000 magistrates at the end of 2022, aimed at filling staffing gaps in the Congolese justice system.
Initial training for new Congolese magistrates
July 18, 2023 saw the start of the 3-month initial training offered by the Higher Council of the Judiciary (CSM), through the National Legal Training Institute (INAFORJ), to the first batch of 2,500 civilian and military magistrates recruited at the end of 2022 and due to take up their duties by the end of 2023. In this context, TRIAL International collaborated with the CSM and INAFORJ to include a 3-day session on the investigation and prosecution of international crimes in the curriculum of this initial training. TRIAL International ran this session during September and October 2023 in Kinshasa, Bukavu and Lubumbashi, the three locations the new magistrates could choose to attend their training.
Skills acquired in the fight against impunity for serious crimes
TRIAL International’s training session enabled magistrates to acquire the basic skills needed to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of international crimes. An analysis of Congolese legislation and the most recent national and international case law enabled participants to identify the legal elements of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The applicable criminal procedure was examined, as well as the admissibility and evaluation of evidence. Magistrates discussed the latest developments in the repression of international crimes in the DRC, as well as the challenges they will face in the field.
Strengthening the human resources of the Congolese justice system
Prior to recruitment at the end of 2022, the Congolese justice system was severely understaffed. Indeed, there were no more than 3,500 active magistrates in the country, i.e. four magistrates for some 100,000 people. This shortage was particularly acute in the country’s provincial areas, as working conditions were less complex in the cities. The recruitment of 5,000 civilian and military magistrates by the end of 2022 and their announced deployment between the end of 2023 and the year 2024 will help to remedy these shortages, in line with the objectives of the National Justice Reform Policy. It will be essential to further train these new recruits beyond their initial training, and to provide them with adequate financial resources as well as the equipment and logistics they need to carry out quality work and enforce justice for the benefit of the Congolese population.
The initial training program for magistrates is organized by the CSM through INAFORJ, with the support of the UNDP and other technical and financial partners of the Congolese government in the field of justice, including TRIAL International.