Press release

Website Launches to Track Bemba Trial at International Criminal Court

Date
November 22, 2010
Contact
Office of Communications
media@opensocietyfoundations.org
+1 212-548-0378

NEW YORK—As the trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo begins today in The Hague, the Open Society Justice Initiative is launching a monitoring website to provide daily updates and expert commentary on the proceedings.

The website’s reports and background are meant to be a resource for journalists, while the blog format provides a space for people interested in the trial to comment and debate. Content is available in English and French.

“With the Bemba trial taking place thousands of miles away from the Central African Republic, we want to make sure that news of the proceedings reaches affected communities—even if local papers can’t afford to keep a correspondent in The Hague,” said Alpha Sesay, legal officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative. “This trial is a landmark achievement in victims’ quest for justice.”

This is the International Criminal Court’s first case about the Central African Republic, and its first trial to focus so squarely on gender-based crimes. Thousands of people were killed, raped, or displaced during the brutal conflict in the Central African Republic from 2002 to 2003.

“It is critical that Bemba receive a fair trial so we can learn the truth of what happened,” said Sesay. “Bemba will have an opportunity to tell his side of the story, as will survivors of these atrocities who have waited years to be heard.”

Bemba is the highest profile defendant to come before the International Criminal Court (ICC) thus far, and faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The prosecution claims that Bemba should be held responsible for rape, murder, and pillage committed by troops allegedly under his command during the conflict. Bemba has pleaded not guilty.

Visit www.bembatrial.org to learn more.

The Open Society Justice Initiative also monitors the Charles Taylor Trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Thomas Lubanga Trial at the ICC.

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