from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – THE life sentences imposed on some rebel leaders has been hailed as a source of immense hope for the many victims of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A Congolese military justice sentenced Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, former leader of the Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC) and Nzitonda Séraphin Lionso, leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
They have been sentenced for war crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery, recruitment of children, looting, destruction of property and bodily harm.
“The suffering has been heard and recognized, impunity is not inevitable” said Leila Zerrougui, head of the United Nations mission in DRC (MONUSCO).
NDC perpetrated the worst violations during DRC’s incessant conflict.
It was cited for the July 30 and August 2, 2010 attacks in the Walikale region of North Kivu province.
Some 287 civilians were killed. Over 380 others were raped. More than 150 children were recruited as soldiers.
“The verdict sends a strong signal that impunity for sexual violence in Congo (DRC) will not be tolerated,” said Pramila Patten, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Virginia Gamba, the UN envoy of Children and Armed Conflict, said the verdict was also an important victory for those who sought justice for grave violations against minors in DRC and elsewhere.
“It is a formidable example showing that no individual, no matter how powerful, is immune from being held accountable for those violations,” Gamba said.
– CAJ News