ECOWAS states adopt measures to protect millions of children

Military Justice Book highlights critical importance of prosecuting military  offenders and presents successful case studies, including  the General Kakwavu prosecution .

Recent UN figures show an 85% decrease in reported cases of  conflict-related sexual violence in the DRC over the last  three years.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reaffirmed its commitment to fighting sexual  violence in conflict with the launch of a Military Justice  Book at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa last week.

The Book, which was written by the magistrates of the DRC’s Military High Court in partnership with the office  of the Personal Representative of the President on sexual  violence and child recruitment, Ms Jeanine Mabunda,  highlights the ongoing fight being waged in the DRC against  impunity for crimes of sexual violence with case studies of  successful, sometimes infamous prosecutions.

Given the current unrest in some regions of the DRC, the  Book’s launch is an important milestone that reminds  institutions of the country’s lack of tolerance for those  who commit acts of sexual violence during conflict.

The launch comes shortly after the publication of a 2016 UN  report which records an 85% decrease in reported cases of  conflict-related sexual violence in the DRC over the last  three years.

The launch event was attended by diplomatic leaders from  across the continent including the President of Gabon, Ali  Bongo Ondimba, and high-level representatives from the  business and academic communities. Mr. Smaïl Chergui, AU  Commissioner for Peace and Security, who also attended the  launch, said: “the Commission of the African Union  welcomes the efforts made by Ms Jeanine Mabunda, who has  achieved important results and reiterates its support to  putting an end to this scourge, on the entire territory of  the DRC”.

Ms Mabunda, who co-hosted the event with Mr. Smaïl Chergui,  called for continued pressure on institutions to hold  offenders to account:

“The Military Justice Book is the result of my office’s  partnership with the Military High Court and our joint  efforts to fight against impunity for conflict-related  sexual violence. I am proud to launch a book which brings to  light the judicial efforts made to tackle this kind of  violence in the DRC.

“We are not complacent. Recent fighting, especially in  Kasai province, shows that we still have a long way to go. However, we strongly believe the prosecution of perpetrators  of all ranks in the military is a critical step in the fight  against conflict-related sexual violence in the DRC. We will  continue to fight for justice for the victims, and end the  impunity of the perpetrators of these crimes.”

The Military Justice Book is a collection of ten cases that  were brought before the Military High Court and involved  sexual violence committed by men serving in the military at  the time. Two of the cases included are the well-known 2003  Songo Mboyo mass rape and 2014 General Kakwavu cases.

General Jerome Kakwavu is the first Congolese general to be  successfully prosecuted for rape. The case is considered a  turning point in the fight against impunity for  conflict-related sexual violence. In the Songo Mboyo case,  the military court convicted the servicemen of crimes  against humanity in accordance with the Rome Statute.

Events have recently taken place across the DRC to mark  International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in  Conflict. This includes the opening of a specialist  gynaecological centre dedicated to the care of victims of  sexual violence at the General Referral Hospital of  Kintambo, and workshop ps for troops on sexual violence laws  as well as training sessions for FARDC officers based in  Kasai, hosted by The Civic Education, Social Action  Service.Distributed by APO on  behalf of The Office of the Personal Representative of the  President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on sexual  violence and child recruitment.