In pursuit of justice and accountability, ICC Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan KC has arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to confront the grave circumstances plaguing the nation. Armed with damning UN reports, the Prosecutor seeks to hold DRC officials and the army accountable for their involvement in an unrelenting cycle of violence that continues to unleash torrents of bloodshed throughout the DRC.
For a start, let us confront the glaring truth head-on. To those in the Congo who entertain the absurd notion that Prosecutor Khan’s presence in the country is solely attributed to the alleged misdeeds of Rwanda, it is high time to abandon this delusional narrative and confront the harsh reality. The responsibility for the crimes committed within the borders of the DRC lies squarely on the shoulders of the Kinshasa regime itself, and there is no evading this inconvenient truth.
Indeed, Prosecutor Khan is well acquainted with the damning reports brought forth by the United Nations experts, and diligent analysts. These reports have starkly exposed a disconcerting reality: the direct involvement of senior FARDC officers in empowering criminal armed groups, orchestrating mass killings against Congolese Tutsi communities and shamelessly exploiting others they were entrusted to protect.
In fact, the weight of evidence is so compelling that even the most steadfast skeptics would find themselves grappling to muster an ounce of doubt concerning the culpability of those embedded within the Congolese power hierarchy. It is precisely this cohort that Prosecutor Khan has departed from the Hague to scrutinize and hold accountable for their actions.
As Prosecutor Khan engages in meaningful dialogues with the afflicted Congolese communities and survivors, their profound experiences of pain and suffering will resonate so powerfully that they will command the unwavering attention of the Prosecutor. The perpetrators, those Congolese senior officers, and political elites astutely evading indictment despite their criminal acts, will find themselves cornered with no escape from the impending repercussions of their actions.
In what can only be described as a perfectly timed occasion, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will have the chance to rise above its lofty rhetoric and fulfill its mandate- offering the long-awaited elusive justice that echoes the swift and decisive actions taken against the likes of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the ex-militiaman affectionately dubbed “little Mobutu,” who enjoyed a ten-year stay in the ICC’s custody.
Ironically, the same Bemba, with such a notorious background was recently rewarded with a prestigious appointment as Minister of Defense, further fanning the flames of conflict in the already troubled eastern regions of the DRC. It seems only fitting that Prosecutor Khan’s diligent investigation should encompass the actions of both Bemba and the very individual who saw fit to bestow such a position upon him, President Tshisekedi.