Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

“Dream Come True” for DRC Journalist

She says visit to the ICC in The Hague helped improve her understanding of how the court worked and what it was trying to achieve.

An IWPR trained-journalist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC had the opportunity to learn about the workings of the International Criminal Court, ICC, as well as improve her journalistic skills when she visited The Hague for a month-long internship in January.

Passy Mubalama, a journalist from Goma in the east of the DRC who arrived in the Netherlands on January 5, has been a regular participant of IWPR training courses run in her home town and contributed regularly to IWPR’s website and IWPR’s Face à la Justice radio show.

Mubalama said that she really appreciated the opportunity to spend a month working alongside IWPR journalists in The Hague, which meant that she could experience first hand what it was like to cover the International Criminal Court, ICC.

“The time that I spent in The Hague was really good for me,” she said. “I’ve learnt many different things and had the chance to discover the ICC for myself – not only its operation, but also how to report on the major trials.

“I met and exchanged experiences with many interesting people. This not only added to my knowledge of certain issues concerning the ICC, but also my conception of journalism.”

While in The Hague, Mubalama had the chance to follow the ICC trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, DRC’s former vice-president who is accused of failing to discipline his troops as they looted and pillaged in the Central African Republic, CAR.

She contributed to articles about the trial for IWPR’s website, as well as filing radio stories for Face à la Justice. She also spent time researching and writing feature articles about the ICC for IWPR.

A Postcard feature that she wrote for IWPR (The ICC Up Close) was particularly insightful and gave a good indication of how her trip to The Hague helped improve her understanding of how the ICC worked and what it was trying to achieve.

She said that her visit to the ICC was like a “dream come true”, and helped her answer  some of the questions that she had about the court – like why it is only prosecuting Africans at the moment.

IWPR radio producer Melanie Gouby, who worked closely with Mubalama during her stay here, praised the work that she did while in The Hague.

“Passy is one of our most dedicated radio reporters,” she said. “She has always shown great flair for a good radio story. Working closely with her for a month was a great opportunity to further develop her reporting and editing skills.

“It was fascinating to hear her opinion on the ICC and the trials she covered while in The Hague. I think that, from a listener’s point of view, it was much more potent to hear her reports on the trials rather than mine.”

Blake Evans-Pritchard, IWPR’s Africa editor, also said that the month Mubalama  spent at the IWPR office was of great value, both for Passy’s own professional development and for IWPR.

“Working with Passy was tremendously rewarding,” he said. “Passy was very enthusiastic and resourceful, and came up with some valuable ideas for articles. It is always a great opportunity to work closely with our journalists, and to discuss the articles that they are writing. I find that this is the best way to improve their reporting skills.”

Meanwhile, on January 21, Evans-Pritchard participated in a panel discussion on the value of local journalism in covering conflict and post-conflict countries.

The conference, which was organised by the Hague-based Asser Instituut, spent a day discussing war reporting, with a focus on international humanitarian and criminal law.

The panellists agreed that local reporting was an important component of journalism in these countries, and could add something very valuable that outsiders often cannot, such as a unique understanding of the place they are writing about.

The discussion also focused on how organisations such as IWPR help local journalists deal with the challenges that they face.

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