Will there be justice in northern Mali, destroyed and controlled by Islamist militants? This is one of the many questions Malian Ibrahima Cissé wants the International Criminal Court to answer.
Cissé is a young activist originally from the Malian town of Douentza. It is almost impossible for ordinary citizens like him to gain access to huge institutions like the ICC, let alone get answers to specific questions. Radio Netherlands Worldwide producer, Sophie van Leeuwen has taken the initiative to bridge this gap by presenting the young Malian’s questions to the ICC as it considers whether war crimes have been committed in northern Mali.
Cissé: Will ICC experts be able to go to north Mali, where the Islamists rule?
Emeric Rogier, Chief of Situation Analysis Section at the ICC: “The Prosecutors Office has opened seven separate investigations in Mali. We have learnt to operate in such conditions, without necessarily being at the actual locations where the crimes have been committed.”
Cissé: Even if the criminals are identified, how do you find them and, eventually, arrest them?
Rogier: “It is a fact that the situation in Mali is complicated. It should be noted that the ICC has no forces. To arrest suspects, we rely on the cooperation of the countries. It is up to them to execute the Court’s requests for arrest. "
Cissé: In hierarchical terms, these leaders are responsible. But it’s not them who raped the 12-year-old girl.
Rogier: “It all depends on who you see as the true culprits. If the prosecutor decides to open an investigation, we would look for the ones with the highest responsibilities for crimes committed. It is the prosecutor’s policy. We apply the same in all situations. We can therefore start with the prosecution of a limited number of people, but they will be the ones primarily responsible.”
Cissé: At least, there is someone looking into this situation…
Rogier: “The ICC, and in particular, the Prosecutors Office, have been following the developments in Mali very closely since January 2012. If a decision is reached to open an investigation, it will be an independent one, impartial and professional, which will lead to tangible results. Malians will realize that justice is still possible and that there is hope for this country.”
RNW’s Africa desk is inviting young Africans to submit any questions they have for the ICC, Sophie van Leeuwen will then try and get as specific as possible answers from officials of the court in The Hague. Questions can be mailed to: