DR Congo

UN envoy welcomes start of trial of two men accused of mass rapes in DR Congo

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4 May 2011 – The official spearheading United Nations efforts to combat the scourge of sexual violence committed during war has welcomed today’s start of a trial in Germany of two Rwandans accused of ordering massacres and mass rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni each face 39 charges of war crimes and 26 counts of crimes against humanity over their alleged actions in the eastern DRC in 2008-09.

Prosecutors in the German city of Stuttgart say the two men served as leaders in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (known by its French acronym of FDLR), a notorious militia accused of numerous atrocities in the eastern DRC in recent years.

Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, issued a statement in which she applauded German authorities for “having apprehended these alleged perpetrators and for bringing them to justice.”

German law allows the prosecution of foreigners for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed elsewhere.

Ms. Wallström said the trial is “a clear sign that there is no safe haven for suspected criminals and that impunity for conflict-related sexual violence is not an option.”

She said her office would continue to monitor the trial and all incidents of conflict-related sexual violence closely.

The envoy has spoken out repeatedly about the widespread sexual violence taking place in the DRC, particularly in the far east, where many militia groups still clash with Congolese armed forces and attack civilians.