Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is a growing African institution committed to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region. OSISA's vision is to promote and sustain the ideals, values, institutions and practices of open society, with the aim of establishing vibrant and tolerant southern African democracies in which people, free from material and other deprivation, understand their rights and responsibilities and participate actively in all spheres of life.

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Policy and Research Papers

République démocratique du Congo - Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit

Le rapport sur le Secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit s’interroge sur la capacité du secteur de la justice congolais à promouvoir, respecter et faire respecter la règle de droit, ainsi que les défis inhérents à ce secteur. Il dresse en outre un tableau éloquent des écueils qui affectent la gouvernance du secteur de la justice au Congo et sa capacité de répondre aux standards démocratiques, ainsi qu’aux besoins d’accès à la justice de la population du Congo. Il dresse enfin un ableau critique sur l’efficacité de l’aide dans ce secteur et plaide pour une meilleure coordination des partenaires echniques et financiers de la RDC, ainsi que pour un leadership du Gouvernement congolais dans la programmation et l’exécution des reformes dans le secteur  de la justice.


The Democratic Republic of Congo Military justice and human rights – An urgent need to complete reforms

This discussion paper will review some of those issues, which are analysed in greater detail in the main report: Democratic Republic of Congo: Military justice and human rights – An urgent need to complete reforms. By examining Congolese military justice within its historical and institutional contexts, the main report outlines its strengths and weaknesses and defines the necessary conditions for its reform. The present paper focuses on the points that warrant urgent and specific attention by the authorities in charge of conducting military justice reforms. It picks out the issues analysed in the main report that seem to be most urgently in need of reform. It also proposes directions for such reforms. The objective of the proposed reforms is to ensure that military justice complies as closely as possible with the principles laid down by the constitution and international standards regarding the independence of the justice system and the right to a fair trial.
In particular, the report highlights three areas of urgent reform. First, the jurisdiction of military courts should be restricted to members of the military, and not extend to civilians. Secondly, the independence of military judges should be guaranteed and political interference in the conduct of trials cease. Thirdly, much stronger protections should be given to ensure the right to a fair trial in the military courts, in particular by limiting the discretionary power of the military judges. These reforms will need to be paired, of course, with parallel reforms in the ordinary court system, to ensure that civilians accused of serious crimes can be brought to justice with respect for due process.