Tuesday, September 4, 2012

58. Justice for Sale

When the system fails, everyone is a victim 

Justice for Sale forms part of a trilogy made by Dutch filmmakers Ilse and Femke Van Velzen. The film focuses on Claudia, a Congolese human rights lawyer, who decides to investigate the prosecution and conviction of Masamba for rape by a local court in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Masamba was imprisoned after allegations were made that he drugged and raped a 25 year old woman.  However, Claudine believes that the evidence is flawed.  During the course of 90 minutes, she travels around interviewing those who had been involved in the case: the alleged victim, Masamba, the husband of the alleged victim; his lawyer; other lawyers and judges in order to determine whether Masamba has been wrongfully imprisoned.  

According to the film, Masamba's trial raises questions about the financial support that international organisations offer to the Congolese judicial system since the trial was supported by an NGO.  Does this result in a justice that's for sale?  The film also questions whether Masamba's trial is compliant with international legal standards of due process, important in an era of complementarity. 

The film finishes by stating that 'after seeing this film the Congolese Ministry of Justice is willing to consider reviewing Masamba's case under a special appeal procedure at the High Military Court in Congo's Capital, Kinshasa'.   The MoJ has seen the film and funds are currently being raised by Dutch NGOs to appeal the decision. The film makers have said in an interview with the Peace Palace that 'based on the new evidence that will be presented, I believe the chances are high that he will be released'.  

It will be interesting to see what influence the film will have in this case.  

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