Certain Criminal Proceedings in France (Republic of the Congo v. France)
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Overview of the case
On 9 December 2002, the Republic of the Congo filed an Application instituting proceedings against France, seeking the annulment of the investigation and prosecution measures taken by the French judicial authorities further to a complaint concerning crimes against humanity and torture allegedly committed in the Congo against individuals of Congolese nationality filed by various human rights associations against the President of the Republic of the Congo, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, the Congolese Minister of the Interior, General Pierre Oba, and other individuals including General Norbert Dabira, Inspector-General of the Congolese armed forces, and General Blaise Adoua, Commander of the Presidential Guard.
In its Application, the Congo indicated that it sought to found the jurisdiction of the Court, pursuant to Article 38, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court, “on the consent of the French Republic, which [would] certainly be given”. In accordance with that provision, the Congo’s Application was transmitted to the French Government and no action was taken in the proceedings. By a letter dated 8 April 2003, France indicated that it “consent[ed] to the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the Application pursuant to Article 38, paragraph 5”, and the case was thus entered in the Court’s List. It was the first time, since the adoption of Article 38, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court in 1978, that a State thus accepted the invitation of another State to recognize the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain a case against it.
The Application of the Congo was accompanied by a request for the indication of a provisional measure seeking “an order for the immediate suspension of the proceedings being conducted by the investigating judge of the Meaux Tribunal de grande instance”, and hearings on that request were held on 28 and 29 April 2003. In its Order of 17 June 2003, the Court concluded that no evidence had been placed before it of any irreparable prejudice to the rights in dispute and that, consequently, circumstances were not such as to require the exercise of its power to indicate provisional measures.
Hearings were scheduled to open in the case on 6 December 2010, when, by a letter dated 5 November 2010, the Agent of the Congo, referring to Article 89 of the Rules of Court, informed the Court that his Government was “withdraw[ing] its Application instituting proceedings” and requested the Court “to make an Order officially recording the discontinuance of the proceedings and directing the removal of the case from the List”. A copy of that letter was immediately communicated to the French Government, which responded in a letter dated 8 November 2010 that it had no objection to the discontinuance of the proceedings by the Congo. Accordingly, by an Order of 16 November 2010, the Court placed on record the discontinuance of the proceedings by the Congo and ordered that the case be removed from the List.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.