This monitoring site is a project of the Open Society Justice Initiative
The media spotlight is likely to shine brightly on the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo as it starts and ends at the International Criminal Court (ICC). As a former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the leader of a Congolese political party, a successful businessman, and widely touted as a major political rival of current Congolese president, Joseph Kabila, Mr. Bemba is the highest profile person to yet come before the court. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role as a commander who failed to prevent or punish his troops for crimes they are said to have committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and March 2003.
But not many journalists will be able to cover the whole trial. At most, some journalists will be able to cover the opening of the trial and delivery of the judgment at the end. Few of those journalists will be from the countries where the people most affected by the trial actually live. We previously partnered with Interactive Radio for Justice to make sure journalists from CAR reported on the trial from The Hague at the opening of the trial on on November 22, 2010. Radio programs based on the interviews the journalists conduct with ICC staff will then be made available locally in the Great Lakes and CAR. This partnership helped bring events in the courtroom to a wider audience.
More generally, this website aims to keep people informed right throughout the trial – in French and English – to make sure this high profile trial gets the attention it deserves, and that media outlets across the world have a resource to go to for their own coverage of the trial even if they cannot send their own journalists to report on it.
Meanwhile, our blog format will allow readers from around the world to discuss the trial and ask questions of our legal team about developments in the trial.
This outreach effort is made possible by our trial monitor, Ugandan journalist Wakabi Wairagala, who watches the trial and writes about the days’ events. His Daily Reports are posted on the website in both French and English. In addition, Weekly Summaries from the courtroom, as well as regular Expert Commentary concerning important legal developments are also posted on the site.
The trial of Mr. Bemba is important because it is only the third trial brought before the International Criminal Court and the first case brought involving the conflict in the Central African Republic. The conflict that took place in CAR resulted in large scale sexual violence and has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. This project is an attempt to provide a range of information about the trial to help people follow this event, which is a landmark in international justice. The site also ensures that voices from the Great Lakes region and CAR can be heard though discussion about the trial.