Dutch authorities are set to deport Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui after a court rejected his second asylum request last week. While the decision can be appealed, it would not suspend deportation. Ngudjolo has been fighting to stay in the Netherlands since his acquittal at the ICC in 2012.
Fighting deportation on all fronts
In December 2012, ICC judges acquitted Ngudjolo of charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The case stemmed from a 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that left over 200 civilians dead.
Ngudjolo has since been fighting deportation to the DRC on several fronts.
He first applied for asylum in The Netherlands in 2012, the host state of the ICC, saying he feared for his safety upon his return to the DRC.
Authorities rejected this application, finding that there were serious reasons to believe that Ngudjolo had committed a crime against peace, a war crime, a crime against humanity or that he had committed a serious non-political crime outside the Netherlands, meaning that the UN refugee convention could not be applied.
They also said Ngudjolo failed to prove that he has reason to fear the DRC authorities upon return.
He nevertheless remained the country to await the decision on the ICC prosecutor’s appeal of his acquittal.
When ICC judges confirmed the acquittal on 27 February this year, Ngudjolo was almost immediately deported but was ultimately allowed to reapply for asylum in the Netherlands.
This week, an application for a humanitarian visa was rejected by Switzerland. Ngudjolo is reportedly planning to make similar applications to the United States, Cuba, Germany, Sweden, Venezuela, and Uruguay.
Meanwhile, on 27 February, the European Court of Human Rights rejected an interim measure to keep him in the Netherlands.
In a video interview with France24 this week, Ngudjolo pleaded against deportation saying that “no one ever asked me what I wanted, not once.”
In the same interview, an ICC spokesperson said that the Court had received assurances from DRC authorities that Ngudjolo would not face any problem upon return.
Dutch court rejects second asylum application
In their second asylum request, Ngudjolo and his lawyers argued that the Dutch authorities should have applied prolonged asylum procedure, which allows the authorities more time and an additional hearing with the applicant to assess an application.
In its decision last week, the Dutch Rechtbank decided that no mistakes had been made in applying the regular asylum procedure. The prolonged asylum procedure can only be applied in a limited number of circumstances, none of which applied to Ngudjolo, the court said.
It decided that Ngudjolo and his lawyers failed to present new evidence that could have led to a different outcome.
The court rejected Ngudjolo’s request for provisional measures to prevent deportation, holding it would not be logical to grant provisional measures after the request in the main case had been rejected.
Appeal to the Assembly of States Parties
Ngudjolo’s lawyer Jean-Pierre Kilenda, has also made an made an appeal for assistance to Assembly of States Parties (ASP), the ICC’s governing body:
“[a]ll the efforts undertaken by his Counsels, both Dutch and international, to obtain either a political asylum in the Netherlands, or his release, proved to be in vain, as the Dutch State found an absence of real risk of persecution for Mr. Ngudjolo in case he returned to his country of origin.” It is for all these reasons that I appeal to the sense of responsibility of the State Parties to the Rome Statute over which you preside, hoping a politically feasible solution, materialised in the right to reside in a secure country where he will not fear for his safety, be found for my client.”
To date, no ICC member state has entered into an agreement to take in persons acquitted by the Court – an issue vital to its fair and efficient functioning.
Ngudjolo is still subject to a UN travel ban, which lists him as a commander in chief of the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes and former commander in chief of the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri, which had prevented his deportation after his first asylum application was rejected in 2013.
Have your say – what do you think should happen with Ngudjolo? Are ICC member states doing enough to protect the rights of persons acquitted by the ICC?
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