New York – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, welcomes the surrender on 26 July of Ntabo Ntaberi Cheka, founder and leader of the Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka, to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in Mutongo, North Kivu.

The Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka was implicated in the rape of at least 387 civilians, including 55 girls and nine boys, during the attacks on 13 villages on the Mpofi-Kibua axis (Walikale territory) between 30 July and 2 August 2010. The United Nations also documented at least 154 children recruited by the group, with hundreds more suspected. Nearly half of the children were below the age of 15 and served in combat roles, a war crime under international law. “For years, Cheka and armed elements under his command have ravaged the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing, maiming, abducting, raping and recruiting children, as well as attacking schools and hospitals. I call on the Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka to end and prevent all grave violations against children and release without delay those children that remain associated with the group,” said the Special Representative.

The Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka has been listed in successive annual Reports of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use and the killing and maiming of children. Cheka was added to the UN sanctions list by the Security Council in 2011, and, in recent years, the Special Representative provided information on violations he committed against children to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cheka is also subject to a 2011 national arrest warrant for crimes against humanity including for mass rape. Combatting impunity for grave violations against children and providing redress is critical so that the victims and their families can heal the wounds of conflict and destruction, and begin to rebuild their lives. The Special Representative thus calls on the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to take all necessary measures to ensure that Cheka is swiftly brought to trial in accordance with due process standards and that charges against him correspond appropriately to all the crimes committed against children.

For more information please contact:
Anne Schintgen – Political Affairs Officer
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
Tel: +1 212-963-8650

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