Minova military trial: two convicts for a mass rape

14 May 2014 by Louise Jones, Goma (DRC)

Last week a military court in Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), delivered a long-awaited judgment. For the past six months, 39 soldiers of the Congolese army were on trial for war crimes including looting, mass rape and murder. But to the disappointment of the 190 victims who had filed a complaint as civil parties, only two soldiers were convicted of rape and all the officers but one cleared. The remaining 25 men were convicted, mainly, of looting and indiscipline.

The trial opened in November 2013 after months of international pressure. The DRC authorities finally proceeded, to show that the country is fighting impunity, including in its own military accused of involvement in the crimes committed in the small town of Minova, some 80 km south of Goma, between 20 and 30 November 2012.

According to the United Nations Mission for the Stabilisation of DRC (Monusco), at least 102 women and 33 girls between 6 and 17 were raped and sexually assaulted by members of the Congolese armed forces during these days and nights of terror. In total, 190 women decided to file a complaint for rape and more than 800 for looting. The incident occurred after hundreds of soldiers, defeated by the M23 rebel group and driven out of the provincial capital of Goma, arrived en masse in the nearby town of Minova. For around ten days they engaged in systematic looting, pillaging and raping of local civilians.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.