The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said he is following the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with “utmost vigilance,” stating that violence related to the presidential and legislative polls later this month will not be tolerated.
“My office is gathering and carefully reviewing converging reports of both verbal and physical violence arising out of the electoral campaign for the presidential and parliamentary elections on 28 November,” said Luis Moreno-Ocampo in a statement issued by the ICC, which is based in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo urged all parties in the electoral process to refrain from violence, noting that the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of serious crimes committed either in the DR Congo or by Congolese nationals since 1 July 2002, UN News Service reports.
The electoral process should not feed a sense of impunity on the part of those responsible for such crimes. On the contrary, it should strengthen the rule of law and the fight against impunity
“We are keeping watch to ensure that the process does not lead to acts of violence or attacks against the civilian population. We are paying particular attention to reports of inciting hatred, exclusion and physical violence by various political figures in Kinshasa and across the entire country,” he said.
“Electoral violence can result in the commission of crimes falling within our jurisdiction. No one should doubt our resolve to prevent crimes or, if need be, prosecute individuals, as we are doing in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire,” he added.
He said his office has the capacity to document any crime within its jurisdiction and, in coordination with domestic courts, will take all necessary action to investigate such crimes.
The prosecutor reiterated that people alleged to have committed serious crimes, such as Bosco Ntaganda, for whom the ICC has issued an arrest warrant, must be taken into custody and put on trial. Mr. Ntaganda, a former commander of armed militias in eastern DRC, is accused of playing a central role in enlisting and conscripting children below the 15 and using them in active combat.
“The electoral process should not feed a sense of impunity on the part of those responsible for such crimes. On the contrary, it should strengthen the rule of law and the fight against impunity,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.
A United Nations report released earlier this week detailed numerous human rights violations during the pre-electoral period in the DRC, and warns that such incidents could threaten the democratic process and result in post-electoral violence.
The joint report issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUSCO), documents 188 violations apparently linked to the electoral process that occurred between 1 November 2010 and 30 September this year.