The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – also known by its French acronym MONUSCO – has welcomed the sentencing of a former commander of a militia group accused of war crimes as a step towards reinforcing the rule of law in the war-torn African nation.
“I applaud the DRC judiciary authorities’ resolve to effectively fight impunity,” said Martin Kobler.
“MONUSCO will continue to support the DRC justice system in its efforts to implement a zero tolerance policy for the worst forms of violence committed against civilians in times of conflict.”
On November 7, a DRC Military Court sentenced General Jérôme Kakwaku to a 10-year prison term for “serious crimes” committed in the country’s eastern district of Ituri by the Forces armées du peuple congolais (FAPC).
According to MONUSCO, under General Kakwaku’s leadership the FAPC ravaged the Ituri countryside between 2003 and 2005 perpetrating a series of “gross human rights violations” including arbitrary execution, rape, arbitrary arrest, torture and illegal detention. He is also being held accountable for massacres committed in Kobu and Jicho forest in January 2003.
A MONUSCO statement added that General Kakwaku’s name had been on a list of five senior officers of the Congolese Armed Forces accused of rape. The list was handed to President Joseph Kabila in May 2009 by a delegation of the UN Security Council as part of the Organisation’s support for the Congolese Government’s “zero tolerance policy.”