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At the time of the survey, the ICC was just beginning its outreach activities in the interior of the country. The Court had concentrated its activities on the capital, Bangui and few outreach activities had been conducted in the prefectures of Lobaye and Ombella M'poko. Overall, one third of the respondents reported having heard about the ICC. Awareness was highest in Bangui (63%) probably because of better access to media, higher levels of education, and outreach by the Court. In Ombella M’Poko and Lobaye, respectively 35 percent and 24 percent of the respondents had heard about the ICC.[1] The high level of awareness in Ombella M’Poko may be explained by a relatively better access to media (especially in the areas bordering Bangui), as well as an interest in the proceedings against Bemba, allegedly responsible for violence that took place in the prefecture. Not surprisingly, given the nature of the outreach activities and the scope of the case currently considered by the ICC, awareness about the ICC was lowest in Ouham Pende (11%) and Ouham (7%). The two prefectures have poor access to media, have not been targeted for outreach, and are experiencing ongoing conflict.

Figure 23: Knowledge and Awareness about the ICC

Respondents who indicated having heard about the ICC were asked a series of follow-up questions to judge their knowledge and perception of the court. The following results are only among those who indicated having heard about the ICC.

Respondents who had heard about the ICC were asked to rate their knowledge of the court. About two out of five respondents (42%) ranked their knowledge as good or very good, 34 percent ranked their knowledge as average, and 24 percent ranked it as poor or very poor. In Ouham and Ouham Pende, the proportion of respondents ranking their knowledge as good or very good is above 50 percent, which may be due to the fact that few have heard about the ICC and those who did are likely to have a strong interest in learning more about it.

Radio was the most frequent source of information about the ICC: 90 percent mentioned it among their main sources, far more frequently than friends and community (14%), newspapers (12%), or the television (12%). Television and newspapers, however, were almost exclusively mentioned in Bangui, while in the other prefectures “friends and community” played a more important role. This is consistent with the more general data on access to mass media.

Figure 24: ICC – Sources of Information

Less than 2 percent of those interviewed reported having participated in a meeting about the ICC, the majority of them (77%) having participated in only one meeting. However, more than half (57%) of those who had heard about the ICC reported talking at least occasionally about the ICC with friends or neighbors, and 51 percent indicated actively looking for information about the Court.

Two of the objectives of the ICC’s outreach activities are (1) to raise awareness among affected communities regarding the role, mandate, functioning and activities of the ICC, and (2) to ensure the media has rapid access to accurate information regarding judicial proceedings and ICC news for further dissemination to the general public in CAR. Several questions were designed to evaluate respondents’ knowledge about the ICC. With regard to the creation of the Court, about half the respondents (47%) believed the ICC was established by the international community, while others believed it had been established by the European community (23%), the U.S. (8%), or CAR (5%). Some were able to identify its date of creation: 23 percent said 2002 and 8 percent said 1998. A larger majority knew where the Court itself was located: 61 percent indicated the Hague or the Netherlands. About the same proportion (65%) knew the Court had offices in CAR, but among them, just 38% reported knowing how to access it.

With regard to misinformation, overall few respondents believed the court has been created to investigate crimes committed in CAR only (16% believed so) or in Africa only (22%). However, two-thirds (65%) of those who had heard about the ICC believed the court could investigate crimes committed before 2002. (In fact, the ICC can only investigate crimes committed after July 1, 2002, which means that crimes committed prior to that date in CAR are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Court.)

Awareness and knowledge about the court is associated with the investigation into serious crimes committed in CAR. When asked about who is currently under detention, 80 percent of those who had heard about the ICC were able to identify Jean-Pierre Bemba. Bemba has indeed been charged with three counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity, all allegedly committed in CAR. A minority of the respondents was able to identify Lubanga (3%), Katanga (2%) or Ngudjolo Chui (1%) who are in detention for crimes allegedly committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, a larger percentage (10%) mistakenly mentioned Charles Taylor, who is on trial at the Special Court of Sierra Leone.

When asked which countries are being investigated by the ICC, respondents accurately mentioned CAR (64%), the DRC (59%), Sudan (35%), and/or Uganda (12%). However, 30 percent also mentioned other countries, and only 5 percent were able to provide four correct answers (i.e., name all four situations). Finally, when asked about individuals who were subject to an arrest warrant, Bashir was most frequently mentioned (39%), followed by Bemba (31% - he is in fact already under arrest), and Kony (16%). However, 21 percent also inaccurately believed an arrest warrant had been issued for CAR’s former President Ange-Félix Patassé.[2]

Overall perceptions of the Court are positive. Nearly all (95%) respondents who had heard about the ICC believe it is important because there is a need for justice (51%), because those responsible must be punished (20%), to compensate the victims (10%) or for other reasons. Most (91%) also believe the ICC will have an impact in CAR. Those who believe so most frequently said the ICC would bring justice (27%), help prevent future crimes (20%), help establish the truth about what happened (19%), punish those responsible (14%), help victims (9%), and bring peace (8%). Most respondents (90%) further found the ICC to be just and neutral. Among those who did not believe the ICC to be neutral (10%), respondents generally felt the ICC was working with the government (34%), and that it is after only one group (18%).

The positive perception about the ICC likely explains why most respondents (92%) would be willing to participate in ICC-related activities if possible. Most believed it is indeed possible for victims to participate in ICC proceedings (91%). Most of those willing to participate wanted to provide testimony (80%), participate as a victim (16%), or in other capacities (4%).

[1] In comparison, awareness about the ICC in northern Uganda increased from 25% in 2005 to 60% in 2007. In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, 28% of the population had heard about the ICC in 2007. See Vinck et al. and Pham et al. op cited.

[2] Ange-Félix Patassé invited Bemba and his MLC troops to help put down a coup in 2002. Crimes alledgedly committed by Bemba’s troops during that period are investigated by the ICC.