Democratic Republic of the Congo
Practice Relating to Rule 116. Accounting for the Dead
In 2008, a training manual by the Prosecutor at the Military High Court for magistrates on techniques for investigating sexual crimes, including war crimes, was adopted as part of the Programme on Investigating Sexual Crimes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When addressing the issue of mass graves used for the concealment of evidence of human rights violations committed during armed conflicts, the training manual states:
b. Objectives [of the exhumation of mass graves]:
- collect evidence to identify the victims[.]
The training manual also states:
[When] the investigation of war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity involves collective graves, the identification of individual victims, although useful, should not necessarily be the starting point of the investigation.
For such crimes, it might happen that certain persons became victims because of the manner in which they were perceived culturally … In this case, it suffices to simply identify the victims according to a certain category (such as ethnic origin, religion or political opinion) and prove that they were killed because of such characteristics.
Unfortunately, positive individual identification is often impossible in the context of poor countries in a post-conflict situation, where the infrastructure, in particular medical infrastructure, is destroyed or inexistent.
Indeed, for almost 500 individuals examined following the exhumation of collective graves in Kibuye, in Rwanda, after the genocide of 1994, only 17 persons were identified …
However, for 28.500 persons disappeared during the Bosnian war (mainly Muslims), the remains of 16.500 individuals were found and 11.500 were identified.