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Justice for Sale

Ilse van Velzen / Femke van Velzen

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Festival year: 2012

In this subtle and surprising documentary, a thorough-going Congolese lawyer investigates a rape case in which the ‘perpetrator’ has become the victim of judicial errors. Third and final part of sisters Ilse and Femke van Velzen’s trilogy about the Congo.


‘This justice system has lost its meaning; I wonder what the future will bring for our children.’ Congolese lawyer Claudine Tsongo is talking about her search for the truth in a rape case in which suspect Masamba has fallen victim to a miscarriage of justice. Without any proof, he has been sentenced to a long prison term and Tsongo suspects that corruption is at play. As the protagonist of this documentary, she introduces the suspects in this failing judicial system. But the filmmakers also let the viewer witness Masamba's court appearance, a surreal scene that is more like a ritual performance than a thorough discussion of the facts. Justice for Sale is earnest in its efforts to reveal how the present justice system in Congo misses its mark, partly under pressure from local and international NGOs. The film is subtly directed, but it is primarily Tsongo's elegant interview technique that encourages the prosecutor and her fellow attorneys to be surprisingly open, allowing the documentary to make right what the judge did wrong.


Netherlands, The 2011, 83 min.


Spoken language: Swahili, French, Lingala

Subtitles: Dutch, English

Official website:



+31 642296948

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Human rights
courts & tribunals, transitional justice
forensics (i.e. excavations, DNA investigation etc. for judicial purposes)
women & gender
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