The Special Representatives of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SVC), Pramila Patten, and for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba welcome the landmark decision by military justice authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the conviction of a provincial parliamentarian and members of the “Army of Jesus” militia for the crimes against humanity of rape for dozens of children in Kavumu, DRC. The crimes occurred on a serial basis between 2013–2016 in the town located in South Kivu province.
“The child survivors of sexual violence in Kavumu, their families, and community have shown tremendous bravery throughout the trial process,” said Special Representative Patten. “I commend their courage and I hope today’s judgment delivers a measure of justice for their suffering.” She noted further that the “judgment and life sentences rendered by military justice authorities is a significant step forward in ending impunity for sexual violence in the DRC.”
SRSGs Patten and Gamba also commended civil society actors for their role. “The case demonstrates that when there is political will, well-trained Government officials, civil society involvement, and an engaged press, there can be justice for sexual violence,” said SRSG Gamba. SRSG Patten added that: “I am pleased that the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict could be deployed to assist national authorities in the military justice system appropriately to ensure that the Kavumu case was prioritized in accordance with the Joint Communiqué signed by my Office with the Government of the DRC in 2013.”
“Rape and other forms of sexual violence against children remains unfortunately widespread in the DRC, with six parties listed for this grave violation in the latest Secretary-General report on Children and Armed Conflict. This conviction brings hope to all the other victims of sexual violence,” SRSG Gamba said. “However, although the trial has concluded, the justice process is not yet over,” both Special Representatives noted. “The potentially life-changing judgments of reparations that were awarded by the court to the child victims must be paid for justice to be fully delivered and the sentences of the perpetrators must be carried out.”
SRSGs Patten and Gamba urged “the international community to work with the Government of the DRC to ensure resources are made available for the payment of reparations to the survivors and other victims of the Kavumu atrocities.”
For media inquiries, please contact:
Géraldine Boezio: Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York. Tel: +1 917 3673306; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fabienne Vinet: Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, New York. Tel.: +1 212 963- 5986; email@example.com