DR Congo and ICC boost ties to tackle war crimes immunity

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The Democratic Republic of Congo government and International Criminal Court prosecutor agreed on Thursday to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan has spent four days in DR Congo, mainly in the mineral-rich but troubled east.

Armed groups have plagued much of eastern DRC for three decades, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s, and underreported conflicts simmer elsewhere in the vast central African nation.

The ICC, operating since 2002, launched its first investigations in the northeastern Ituri region in 2004.

The court has since handed down three sentences for crimes committed in the DRC.

"There has been good cooperation with the DRC," Khan said Thursday.

"But unfortunately too many girls, too many boys, too many men and too many women continue to be violated and raped," he said.

"I have seen those victims. I have seen children who were raped that themselves have given birth to children that have been raped. And that cycle will continue unless we build these new partnerships," Khan added.

The ICC prosecutor called for "a new paradigm", stressing the need to work "with more imagination".

"This is not an ICC problem, this is a shared obligation with the fundamental responsibility on the DRC."

In a "first step in that direction," DR Congo and the international court on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the issue, Khan said.

"We need to make sure that these are not pious promises that are not felt by the people of this country," he said.