The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday in The Hague that it would investigate the role of business operating in Europe, Asia and North America in fuelling crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
"The Office of the Prosecutor draws attention to the fact that the crimes affecting Ituri [District, northeastern DRC] are not only being committed within the province," the ICC said. "The Office of the Prosecutor will work together with national investigators and prosecutors in order to determine the contribution, if any, that these businesses are making to the commission of crimes in the DRC."
It said Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was calling for the cooperation and support of the DRC government and all States Parties to the Rome Statute with respect to the Ituri investigation.
The ICC also announced that Deputy Prosecutor (Investigations) Serge Brammertz, due to be sworn in on 3 November, would be in charge of the Ituri file.
"The investigation of the financial aspects of the atrocities allegedly committed in Ituri will be crucial to prevent future crimes and for the prosecution of crimes already committed," the ICC said. "If the alleged illegal business practices continue to fuel atrocities, these will not be stopped, even if material perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted."
It said the prosecutor of the ICC hoped that the prosecution of these cases would contribute to the ongoing peace process and ultimately yield stability for the DRC, "fostering not just political stability but also healthy markets".
The ICC recalled that investigation of the financial aspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity was not a new idea: in the aftermath of the Second World War, German industrialists were prosecuted by the Nuremberg Military Tribunals for their contribution to the Nazi war effort. One of these Tribunals held that it was a settled principle of law that persons knowingly contributing – with their influence and money – to the support of criminal enterprises could be held responsible for such crimes.