By Jean Kassongo in Kinshasa
Global envoys on sexual violence as well as
recruitment of children in conflict have welcomed the 30-year sentence
slapped on Congolese rebel leader, Bosco Ntaganda.
It is the longest sentence of imprisonment ever pronounced by the
International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ntanganda (aged 46) has been prosecuted on 18 counts of war crimes
and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and
conscripting and enlisting children
The crimes occurred in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of
the Congo (DRC) from 2002 to 2003, when Ntaganda was a commander of the
Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo.
Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the United Nations (UN)
Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, welcomed the
“This is also the first time an ICC conviction has included sexual
slavery, marking an important step forward in how we address these
crimes,” Patten added.
Patten, while noting that Ntaganda had signaled an intention to appeal,
views the sentence as an important step towards accountability for
victims whose lives have been shattered by acts of conflict-related
“It sends a strong signal and should serve as a powerful deterrent to
others,” Patten said.
Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict, also lauded the sentence.
“The sentence handed down by the ICC sends a strong message to both
perpetrators and victims that no one is above the law and that
accountability for atrocity crimes must be pursued at all times," Gamba
Ntanganda is appealing the sentence.
Meanwhile, over 300 people, most of them women and children,
are at the risk of murder, sexual violence and kidnappings five months
after an outbreak of violence by armed groups in eastern DRC.
The grave violations are widespread in the provinces of Ituri and North
In October alone, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) staff recorded at least 1 000 human rights violations in the two
“Civilians live in fear of death and destruction,” said Babar Baloch,
UNHCR spokesman, said.
The displaced people are also living not only in dire conditions without
UNHCR has intensified its response to the growing displacement crisis in
However, the organisation needs additional resources to continue to
support and improve the situation.
UNHCR seeks $150 million (R2,24 billion) to meet the needs of refugees
in the DRC this year.
Only slightly more than half of this amount has been received.
“Lack of funding severely hampers the ability of displaced people to
meet their basic needs,” Baloch added.
Before the displacements in Ituri and North Kivu, an estimated 4 million
people were already displaced in the DRC.
This is about 10 percent of the world's internally displaced population.
- CAJ News.