The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) became a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on April 11, 2002. In April 2004, the President of the DRC referred crimes anywhere in the territory of the DRC since the entry into force of the Rome Statute on July 1, 2002. This referral gave the ICC jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes in the DRC.
On June 23, 2004 ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced his decision to open an investigation, the Court's first, in the situation in the DRC. The decision to open an investigation was taken after thorough consideration of the jurisdiction and admissibility requirements of the Court's Rome Statute. The Prosecutor also concluded that an investigation of grave crimes in the DRC would be in the interest of justice and of the victims. The situation in the DRC was assigned to Pre-Trial Chamber I.
The current conflict in the DRC began in 1997, when then President Mobutu Sese Seko, was deposed by Laurent-Desire Kabila, after thirty-five years of rule. Kabila installed himself as President with the support of Rwandan and Ugandan forces. Rwandan forces then sought to depose Kabila in favor of their own liberation movement. Kabila, with military support from other countries in the region fought off Rwandan forces, driving them into the mountains in the northeast of the DRC. Another Congolese faction supported by Uganda then took control over the northern portion of the nation. The DRC was thus splintered into three regions.
While some progress has been made towards peace, violence continues in the DRC. Armed factions remain in control of their respective areas, terrorizing local civilian populations. The withdrawal of foreign troops proved to be largely symbolic, as the various state militaries left behind well-organized proxy networks to act on their behalf.
One of the most severe and damaging elements of this conflict has been the pervasive sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, and to a lesser extent, men and boys. Mass rape has been institutionalized as part of the fighting in this conflict.
The investigation in the DRC has resulted in six cases to date, four of which remain open:
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