ICC withdrawal: Kinshasa issues alarming statement
In a media release on 15 September 2018, the Congolese government stated it “did not exclude” withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is an alarming scenario in which the victims could pay the highest price.
TRIAL International is highly preoccupied by the threat emanating from Congolese authorities to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC. Alleging that “certain governments exerted pressure on the judges”, the government could leave the world’s first permanent jurisdiction to prosecute the gravest crimes.
A collaboration reinforcing the ICC’s image
In April 2004, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was the first country to refer its own situation to the ICC. Since then, several cases regarding crimes committed in DRC have been investigated and prosecuted by the Court.
This collaboration between DRC and the ICC until now reinforced the Court’s credibility and demonstrated the Congolese authorities’ commitment to fight impunity among its leaders. This recent declaration seems to fly in the face of these positions and sends an alarming message.
Some crimes could go unpunished
“If Kinshasa’s threats were indeed followed by DRC’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Congolese people – and indirectly the international community as a whole – would be the biggest losers”, says Daniele Perissi, Head of the DRC program at TRIAL International. “It would mean that certain crimes, whose authors DRC is unwilling or unable to prosecute, could simply go unpunished.”
Burundi’s example shows that withdrawing from the ICC is a step towards international isolation and a dismissal of fundamental principles of the fight against impunity. It would be very unfortunate if DRC chose to follow the same path at such a crucial moment for the affirmation of good governance. The country is currently preparing for presidential elections – a high-tension campaign closely monitored by the international community.