The continuation of the “Congo Tribunal”

  • 1st until 10th of October 2020, Kolwezi Hearings, different places, Katanga region, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 22nd of October 2020, 6 p.m., School of Resistance, Episode Nine: A Global Jurisdiction for a Global Economy
  • 25th of October 2020, 4 p.m., Summary of the hearings, discussion and preliminary judgement in the hall “Box im Schiffbau”, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • February 2021, Final sessions of the Tribunal in the “Cercle Manika”, Kolwezi, D.R. Congo

On October 1st, the investigators Sylvestre Bisimwa and Céline Tshizena started the hearings in the mining region of Katanga in the D.R. Congo and thus continue the work of the Congo Tribunal, three years after the publication of the awarded documentary by Milo Rau. They are investigating the responsibility of political elites, multinational companies and the international community in a series of human rights violations, cases of environmental pollution and corruption. On October 25th, the hearings will be summarised and debated in the theatre of Zurich and a preliminary judgement will be made. The final sessions with a concluding judgement will be held in February 2021 in Kolwezi.

For the Kolwezi hearings the investigator of the first Congo Tribunal, Sylvestre Bisimwa, and the Congolese lawyer and human rights activist, Céline Tshizena, travelled to the most important mining region of the D.R. Congo, where the Swiss raw material giant Glencore operates two of the world’s largest copper and cobalt mines. With a series of hearings, they investigate a) how and under which conditions the treaties with multinational companies have been concluded and in what way the companies currently contribute to the local economic development; b) what damages to the environment are caused in the process and in what way the companies are brought to account by the state for the perpetrated damages, c) how the multinational companies manage the conflicts with the artisanal prospectors. The starting point of the negotiations consists of a presumed case of corruption that was revealed in 2017 in the course of the publication of the Paradise Papers and in which the Swiss company Glencore, the Israeli businessman Dan Gertler and a Congolese politician were involved. Furthermore, a series of cases of tax avoidance and pollution of the environment and the accident of a truck carrying sulfuric acid, in which 21 people died and seven were severely injured in February 2019 in the village of Tenke are subjects of the investigation. The most complicated case is a landslide in the so-called KOV mine, of which Glencore is the major shareholder, in which in June 2019, 41 artisanal prospectors, who illegally exploited copper and cobalt on the concession, were buried under the earth.

On October 25th, a few weeks before the vote on the initiative for responsible multinational companies in Switzerland, the records of the first hearings in the Congo will be presented in the Schauspielhaus Zurich, complemented by further hearings and commented by the European jury members. The Zurich hearings will be presided over by Miriam Saage-Maaß, Vice Legal Director of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). Furthermore, among others Colette Braeckman, Africa correspondent of Belgian newspaper “Le Soir”, Marc-Antoine Vumilia, Congolese author and director, Dorothée Pauly-Baumann, Director of Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights, Nina Burri, expert in international criminal law, responsible for economy and human rights for “Bread for all” and OIiver Classen, media spokesperson and project leader at “Public Eye”, will appear on stage. One of the important topics will be which responsibility multinational companies having their domicile in Switzerland take, when in the course of their activities human rights are violated or the environment is polluted.