The warning follows an announcement by The Independent National Electoral Commission CENI on Thursday that it was unable to organize the vote on time, and that the poll would now take place around seven days later. The country should have gone to presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial polls on Sunday December 23rd.
Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – ICC is closely monitoring pre-election violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a statement issued on Thursday Bensouda said that she will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute “anyone who incites or participates in mass violence within the jurisdiction of the ICC”.
The warning follows an announcement by The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Thursday that it was unable to organize the vote on time, and that the poll would now take place around seven days later. The country should have gone to presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial polls on Sunday, December 23rd.
Bensouda said anyone ordering, soliciting, encouraging or otherwise contributing to crimes within the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court is liable to prosecution before the Court.
“No one should doubt my determination to investigate such crimes and to prosecute them when conditions, as defined by the Rome Statute, are met” she stated adding that she is concerned by the growing tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ("DRC").
According to Bensouda, experiences from other countries has demonstrated that when passions run high during elections and people do not act with restraint, large-scale grave crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court – the ICC may be commissioned or committed. She said violence is not an option.
She said in such a case, her office will not hesitate to take action in accordance with the criteria defined by the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC. She urged political leaders to ensure that the electoral process and the elections proceed in a calm manner and that their supporters and sympathizers refrain from any violence before, during and after the elections.
Democratic Republic of Congo is a State Party to the International Criminal Court charged with trying those accused of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
Bensouda visited DRC in May 2018 to appeal to the Congolese people, and more particularly to the authorities, political actors, their supporters and sympathizers, to do their utmost to prevent and avoid any conduct of criminal violence contrary to the Rome Statute, anywhere and at any time.
From six cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity which the International Criminal Court has from the Democratic Republic of Congo, three have been formally accused of commissioning crimes of the Rome Statute, one ongoing trial, one suspect at large, one ongoing appeals and another suspect in custody.
The cases stem from alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during civil wars fought mainly in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the Ituri region and the North and South Kivu Provinces, since 1 July 2002.