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Ending Impunity In The DRC

Germain Katanga, a Congolese national, sits in the courtroom of the ICC during the closing statements in the trial against Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui in The Hague.(FILE)

An international tribunal has convicted a former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

An international tribunal has convicted a former Congolese militia leader of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in a deadly attack in 2003 by his troops on a village in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ending Impunity In The DRC
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The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court at The Hague found Germain Katanga, former leader of the Force de Résistance Patriotique, guilty of four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity for his role in the assault by rebel forces on the village of Bogoro in Ituri District in February 2003. Some 200 people were reportedly killed and women were raped and used as sex slaves. In a 2-1 ruling, the court found that during the fighting that roiled the region for many years, Katanga made a significant contribution to the commission of crimes committed in the Bogoro attack through his role in arming the fighters and reinforcing the strike capability of the militia.

The court’s action against Katanga, also known by his warlord nickname “Simba,” or the lion, is the third time the court has rendered a verdict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo situation. The ICC’s DRC cases represent a significant step toward delivering justice for victims there. Past impunity for such atrocities has fueled a destabilizing cycle of conflict, and it is clear that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held to account.

Another ICC-indicted leader of an abusive rebel militia in the DRC, Sylvestre Mudacumura, is still at large. The United States calls again for his arrest, and continues to offer a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest, transfer or conviction.

In addition to the work of the ICC, strong and effective national courts also have a role to play in ending impunity in the DRC. We continue to support the Congolese government’s efforts to hold perpetrators accountable through its domestic institutions, including the creation of mixed chambers. The DRC government is currently considering draft legislation to submit to the DRC Parliament.