Since 1996, the DRC has remained the theatre of serious human rights violations. On the sidelines of the so-called war of liberation led by the troops of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) that brought Laurent Désiré Kabila to power in May 1997, several armed groups emerged, particularly in the eastern part of the country. Along with national armed groups, foreign rebel groups and refugees from neighbouring countries (Rwandans, Ugandans and Burundians) settled on the Congolese territory and perpetrated numerous abuses. Within this context, several serious human rights violations have been committed and continue to be committed despite the declared end of the war.

A large number of these crimes fall into the category of international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide), and therefore fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose Rome Statute was ratified by the DRC in 2002. The Constitution of the DRC establishes the supremacy of the Rome Statute over national legislation and its direct application in Congolese law, while its national law also addresses these crimes. The great majority of these crimes, however, remain unpunished. Even though the military courts have made significant efforts in this area, in often difficult conditions, much remains to be done at the level of ordinary civil courts of law, which were formally recognized as competent to try international crimes in 2013.

It is in this context that work continues to fight against the impunity of perpetrators of international crimes and for the recognition of victims’ rights in the DRC. ASF participates, in particular, by providing legal aid services to victims, while ensuring that fair trial standards are respected through the implementation of a trial monitoring methodology. This monitoring is carried out by lawyers specifically trained for this purpose.