CASE BRIEF

Criminal Proceedings in France (Republic of Congo v. France)

Numerous allegations of grave violations of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were received since the start of 1998. The Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo expressed deep concern about the continuing deterioration of human rights in the country and called on the Government of President to take all necessary measures to rectify the situation. A complaint was filed a few years later on the 5th of December 2001 on behalf of several human rights organizations for crimes against humanity and torture, allegedly committed by members of Congo’s government against the Congolese people by France. The complaints were filed against the President of the Republic of the Congo, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, the Congolese Minister of the Interior, General Pierre Oba, and a few other individuals. However, Congo claims that it is their country’s duty to prosecute those responsible for these allegations as well as the fact that France should not intervene in their internal affairs. So, on the 23rd of January 2002, an investigation was initiated. The Republic of Congo argued that France violated the principle that a State may not, in breach of the principle of sovereign equality among all Members of the United Nations, exercise its authority on the territory of another State as well as violate the criminal immunity of a foreign head of state. On the other hand, France argues that it was their responsibility to interfere and protect the Congolese people based on the virtue of erga omnes, as well as the virtue of a principle of international customary law providing for universal jurisdiction over crimes such as these, some articles from the French Code of Criminal Procedure.