On 19 November 2019, the Bukavu Garrison Court (South Kivu) found three former militiamen guilty of crimes against humanity. They received heavy prison sentences, ranging from 15 years to a life sentence for the warlord heading the group, Kokodikoko. The judges recognized the crimes of murder, torture, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and enslavement the three men inflicted for months on civilians in several villages in South Kivu. Victims were awarded compensation and access to medical and psychological care. Over 300 victims took part in the hearings, the majority of whom had suffered sexual violence. Although several renounced to testify for fear of retaliation, holding hearings directly on the crime scenes undeniably encouraged their participation.
Despite the fact that the accused were part of a non-State group, the Congolese State was also found civilly liable for failing to protect the civilian population. This is important in view of the fact that Kokodikoko and his accomplices will likely be unable to compensate the victims. It will be up to the State to fill this gap, ensuring that reparations orders are enforced. “This decision is a step in the right direction but we are now waiting to see whether it will materialize” said Chiara Gabriele, Legal Advisor for TRIAL International in Bukavu.
More information by TRIAL International can be found:
For an interview with Daniele Perissi, TRIAL International’s Programme Manager for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, see https://www.justiceinfo.net/en/tribunals/national-tribunals/42975-drc-militia-leader-sentenced-to-life-for-crimes-against-humanity.html.
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