Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (3 December) on the sentencing of former militia leader Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
The verdict against the warlord “Sheka” sends an important signal of against impunity in a region that has been plagued by the most serious human rights violations for decades.
It is encouraging that more than 50 cases have been adjudicated in Congolese courts in recent years in application of the Rome Statute. In the case that has now been concluded, the support of the European Union, the United Nations mission MONUSCO and numerous NGOs involved was also instrumental. They provided technical and material assistance to the bodies involved in the investigative work and sentencing.
However, much remains to be done in order to tackle the enduring culture of impunity surrounding the conflicts in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo effectively and in the long term. This includes modernising the penal system to prevent prison breakouts by convicted offenders, paying reparations to the victims of serious human rights violations, and strengthening victim assistance and protection.
Former warlord “Sheka” was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week. After a trial lasting almost two years with 337 plaintiffs and thousands of pages of evidence, the court held that the former leader of the Nduma Défense du Congo militia was responsible for mass rape, the recruitment of child soldiers, looting, murder, manslaughter and arson in a number of villages in 2010, 2012 and 2014.