Breakthrough in the fight against impunity in respect of sexual violence with STAREC assistance
Kisangani, 13 March 2013 – During a mobile court hearing held on 18 – 23rd February 2013 at Osio detention centre located 18 kms away from South Kisangani, Orientale province, about a dozen verdicts were issued by the provincial military court. The hearing was funded by the Stabilization and Reconstruction Plan for areas emerging from armed conflict (STAREC), in the area of the fight against Impunity for Sexual violence.
Under the leadership of the first president of the military court in Oriental Province, magistrate Kalala Kapuku, 4 military members prosecuted for rape and other sexual abuses were sentenced to 10 – 20 years imprisonment with hard labour and heavy fines including court fees. Convicted have been demoted and removed from the Armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). The court, for the majority of cases, confirmed the first judge’s ruling with very few amendments under the law.
The majority of the victims are less than 18 years old; one of whom was repudiated by her husband after being raped by soldiers. The victims were all represented by lawyers from the legal clinic in Kisangani.
The mobile court hearing helped defendants become aware of their fate after five-year waiting.
Besides sexual violence, the military courts also handled other cases such as murders, breach of orders, armed robbery and defections by military members.
With STAREC fund to fight impunity, the military court, in collaboration with MONUSCO, is planning to organise more mobile court hearings at Dungu, Isiro and Bunia, Oriental province.
Dorcas Kanku/ MONUSCO