Ending impunity in Eastern Congo is an exhausting, tedious process. A comprehensive investigation of the mass crimes committed during the civil war has to date been undertaken neither by national nor by international courts. Exploitation of the raw materials, which are irreplaceable for Western industries, continues to be accompanied by resettlement, conflict and violence.
For The Congo Tribunal, Milo Rau has assembled the victims, perpetrators, witnesses and analysts of the Congolese war in a unique civilian tribunal in eastern Congo. And what seemed impossible was achieved: All parties involved – the government, the opposition, the military, rebels, international mining groups, local miners, farmers, victims, perpetrators/culprits, human rights activists and experts on globalization – took part and testified in the publicly held tribunal.
The success of these symbolic hearings was resounding because for the first time in two decades, a protected public space was created in which the victims of displacement, expropriation, rape and murder were able to raise their concerns and accusations and have been heard by regional and national governments as well as by a local and international audience.
Since the first Congo Tribunal, the victims of mass crimes and the civil society in the provinces of North and South Kivu continue to demand justice and an independent and impartial tribunal. In 2018, the internationally renowned lawyers Jean-Louis Gilissen, criminal defence lawyer and victim’s representative at the International Criminal Court, and Sylvestre Bisimwa, Congolese human rights lawyer, intend to establish a form of continuous civil society legal investigation of human rights violations at local level in order to support the plea against impunity on a national and international level.
Several local tribunals (five are currently planned) are being set up at various locations of past mass and economic crimes in eastern Congo. Their task is to collect credible evidence of the crimes and to call for prosecution of the perpetrators. So that the victims of the civil war in eastern Congo can have a voice and the truth about past crimes can be heard.
We want to support the planned tribunals because we are convinced that they will help pave the way for peace!
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