By Niklas Jakobsson
More than 5000 people in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken part in a survey on justice. The participants, who live in the area most heavily affected by the recent civil war and whose cases are at the International Criminal Court, indicated that despite their hopes for justice, they do not believe the ICC will bring it to them.
Over a quarter of the respondents believe that the ICC has a negative impact on peace and justice. And the majority – 52 % – had a “neutral” view of the ICC, with only a fifth expressing a positive view of its work.
92% of the population believes that there will be justice for war and conflict-related crimes
When asked about the most suitable way to achieve justice, only 28% of the respondents named the ICC, with almost half the population preferring the national justice system. Overall, the population has a positive view on the possibility of justice, with 92% believing that there will be justice for crimes committed in wars or conflicts between the government and rebel groups.
75% of the population believes that the national justice system is corrupt. When asked to express their opinion of the system, words such as “corrupted” (54%), “non-existent/enabling impunity” (41%) and ”biased/in favour of the rich” (35%) were the most frequent answers.
The concept of ‘justice’ is about establishing the truth and applying the law
The overall concept of “justice” is deeply-rooted in the minds of respondents, but has a wide range of meanings for the population. When asked to define the concept of ”justice”, people preferred definitions such as ”establishing the truth”, ”applying the law” and ”being just or fair”. Only 15% of those surveyed identified ”trials” as related to the concept of justice.
Knowledge about the ICC passes 50 % mark
Knowledge about the ICC is still limited – despite increasing over 25% since 2008 – with just over half the population being aware of the court and its work. Respondents cited radio as their main and most trusted source of information. Only 5% of the population believe that they have a ”good” or ”very good” amount of access to the ICC itself.
The survey was carried out among 5,166 randomly selected respondents in the areas of North Kivu, South Kivu and the district of Ituri during November and December 2013.
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