International Justice/ICC: Jan ‘09

Congolese listeners to IWPR radio programme say that it has improved their knowledge and understanding of the ICC

International Justice/ICC: Jan ‘09

Congolese listeners to IWPR radio programme say that it has improved their knowledge and understanding of the ICC

Tuesday, 17 February, 2009
IWPR’s Facing Justice radio show continues to have major impact in the Democratic Republic of Congo with listeners telling a recent focus group that the programme is unique in providing high-quality, unbiased reporting on the International Criminal Court, ICC.

Broadcast in French, Lingala and Swahili, Facing Justice goes out twice a month on community radio stations around the country. Its aim is to inform Congolese people about the ICC, transitional and local justice.

IWPR has partnered with Search for Common Ground on the project, which evolved from a series of discussions around the shared analysis by SFCG and IWPR that Congolese listeners needed to have access to regular, impartial information about justice issues, in particular related to the cases ongoing at the ICC where five Congolese nationals are accused of war crimes.

It was SFCG that hosted the two focus groups – one for young people and another for adults – at its Bukavu offices in late December, trying to gauge reaction to the programme which debuted in October 2008.

The youth group was made up of students and the adults ranged from a military magistrate, to a teacher and NGO workers.

Participants were asked their opinions on Facing Justice shows with topics ranging from successes and failures of the ICC to the trial of Thomas Lubanga and the ICC’s case against Jean-Pierre Bemba.

They were also asked questions about the perceived impartiality of the programme and given a test when arriving designed to measure their knowledge about the ICC. Organisers then played a Facing Justice programme and gave participants a second test with similar questions. They all showed improved ICC knowledge after listening to Facing Justice and in a lively debate that followed, discussed the importance of the ICC and the clarity and quality of Facing Justice.

In the younger group, all ten participants described the show as either good or very good. They complimented its unique format and said it provides better information than other justice-related programme about the ICC and the concept of justice.

Amongst the adults, all ten said the programme was of a high quality and that they appreciated that it includes local voices in each broadcast.

Reaction from radio station editors has also been largely positive with many signaling the fact that Facing Justice responded to a real need to better understand the workings of the ICC.

Listeners, meanwhile, also said they appreciate the content of the show and IWPR/SFCG’s efforts in creating an understanding of the court.

The quotes below come from listeners:

  • Student/ Bunia/Ituri/Radio Candip - I had a lot of questions about the ICC
    and Face a la Justice answered my questions. At university we have a course
    on international justice, and I think that your show can be of assistance
    to us.

  • Unidentified/Bukavu/Radio Maendeleo - Please send us the schedule of broadcasts,
    it is very interesting. Why has the ICC been delaying in arresting Laurent
    Nkunda as well?

  • Papa Kassa/Kasavubu commune/Kinshasa/RTGA - Why are only opposition members
    pursued by this international justice? I think that it’s just a strategy of
    the majority political party in power to weaken the Congolese opposition.
    Thanks for your courage to talk about things that others don’t dare to talk

  • Teacher/Aru/Province Orientale/RCO – I have just finished listening to your
    show Face a la Justice. Thank you for the information. Please let me know
    how I can participate in this programme. Can you also speak more about the
    national judicial system and why our justice system cannot try Bemba and the
    others itself?

SFCG journalist Ewing Ahmed from Bukavu is the Swahili presenter for Facing Justice. He recently traveled to The Hague to conduct research and interviews for the programme, both with ICC officials and the Congolese diaspora.

He is also covering the first weeks of the Lubanga trial for Facing Justice and the SFCG network in the Congo, including Lubanga’s homebase Bunia. Reaction to his daily updates from The Hague have been hugely positive with Congolese listeners texting in to express their interest in the trial news contained in Ahmed’s daily broadcasts – information they say they can’t get elsewhere.

Upcoming Facing Justice shows will concentrate on news and analysis surrounding the Lubanga trial, followed by an in-depth look at the failings of the Congolese judicial system.

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