DR Congo

International Criminal Court Sentences First Former Govt Official Convicted of Sex Violence War Crimes

The third person to be convicted by the ICC.



Former Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the third person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), a tribunal set up to prosecute alleged war criminals national governments who signed onto the ICC are unable or unwilling to prosecute on their own, and the first to be convicted of war crimes of a sexual nature, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison by the court.

Bemba, the leader of a rebel group-turned-political party, served as one of four vice presidents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2003 to 2006. He was a runner up in the 2006 presidential election and was later voted onto the Senate.

The ICC investigation into Bemba began in 2007 at the request of the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR), which accused Bemba and other Congolese officials of meddling in internal CAR affairs after a 2002 coup, when the deposed president, Ange-Felix Patasse, enlisted their help and the help of mercenaries in fighting against the successful coup.

Congolese and other troops participating in this campaign were accused of "summary executions, rape and other sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and looting," as Human Rights Watch noted. In March, Bemba was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the CAR conflict. In its ruling, the court found that soldiers from Bemba's rebel group-turned-political party "directed a widespread attack against the civilian population in the Central African Republic throughout the period of the charges," including "many acts of pillaging, rape, and murder against civilians." The court found that Bemba could've ordered his soldiers to stop at any time but did not.

Some critics are upset that no Congolese officials were charged or convicted for war crimes related to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. "For the Congolese it would feel like a missed opportunity for what happened there," a senior analyst from the International Crisis Group told The Guardian. "One shouldn't minimize what happened in the CAR but there is a sense of a missed opportunity."

Both of the first two people convicted by the ICC were Congolese as well. Germain Katanga was convicted in 2014 of war crimes related to the massacre in the Congolese village of Bokoro, but acquitted of charges related to rape as a weapon of war, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 2012, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was convicted on charges related to abducting children and conscripting them into war.

Previous war crimes convictions in the last thirty years came via special international tribunals for the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.

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  1. The ICC investigation into Bemba began in 2007

    Only 9 years ago? Boy, that’s some highly motivated law enforcement, right there.

    Excellent work, boys. You’re almost halfway to full retirement; one more war criminal and you can spend the rest of your life cashing pension checks.

    1. How many of these investigators are already drawing pensions for their first go round at a lower LE office (time in which will mysteriously count towards their new pensions…)

    2. Government official, they get a lot of due process. Like… a lot.

    3. TBF: I believe they had a tough time finding people willing to testify at first.

      1. Dead men tell no tales.

        And I bet women who’ve been raped by half the army don’t necessarily want to get in front of an audience full of European intellectuals and talk about their ordeal in detail. Especially if it’s he said/she said.

        Anybody else ever seen Death and the Maiden?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Death_and_the_Maiden_(film)

        Also, I imagine it’s like testifying against the mafia only more so. Ex-army guys have more murderers at their disposal than the mafia. You identify yourself and go on the record against their head guy, I’m sure there’s some concern that something bad might happen to your relatives back home.

  2. “the third person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC)”

    All black men!
    And Dick Cheney walks the Earth like a king!

    1. And all from the same country…

      I wonder if the Congo is royally fucked up or something.

      1. Of course it is: the US/CIA screwed it over in the 1960s and its never recovered.

        1. From what I’ve read of Congolese history, there was hardly any time it was not fucked up. It’s most stable period was during the span of Belgian rule after they took it from the King. Then the locals chopped up the belgians and wondered why the white men weren’t coming back.

          1. Yeah, I was being sarcastic. However, the assassination of Lumumba didn’t help things. He wasn’t perfect, but he probably would have been better than Mobutu.

            The Kingdom of Kongo was pretty solid until the late 19th century.

            1. I think most ANYONE would’ve been better than Mobutu.

      2. Africa, largely a perpetual shithole of violence, poverty, oppression, and bleak despair. The cause? WESTERN CAPITALIST PIGS!

        1. Rhodesia made me skeptical of any claims of Imperialism being the root of all that ails the continent. The country was turned over to majority rule as a prosperous breadbasket and within a generation had been turned into an economic basketcase. I went and looked, and this pattern repeated itself a lot. A few places managed to avoid the worst of the mistakes their fellows made (Kenya comes to mind). In the end, a lot of the problems cannot be placed at the foot of the former colonial powers.

  3. So these people are all in prison, right?

    1. But . . . *who’s* prison?

      1. whose

  4. I see that the ICC doesn’t belong to the Cult of Over-Incarceration.

    12 years for a massacre, 18 years for pillaging, rape and murder of civilians.

    At least it’s a hellhole of a prison he’s going to, right? /sarc

    1. Wow, the comments on the story that linked that article are derpy beyond belief. Did you know, for example, that capitalism and socialism are functionally identical? That both suffer from falling oil prices? That capitalism is just as greedy and myopic as socialism? American cities are indistinguishable from Caracas!

    2. Yeah, notice they spin it so the problem isn’t socialism, nationalization, central planning, or price controls.

      No, the problem is the markets.

      The markets made oil prices low. And the riots are over the markets making the cost of food high.

      The markets are to blame for everything.

      Socialism, nationalization, central planning, and price controls remain unmitigated goods–in their worldview.

    3. Check out those low, low prices.

      It works as long as you don’t expect “low oil prices” to be defined by some sort of quantifiable number or calculation, and instead think of it as another way to say “not socialism”.

      1. See, it’s excusable that socialist economies have hinged their entire economy on the vicissitudes of a single commodity, because oil producers do that too and that proves capitalism is just as foolish and corrupt.

      2. Look, it’s just bad luck that this keeps happening to professed socialist countries, m’kay? Bad luck over and over and over and over and over….

  5. Former Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the third person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), a tribunal set up to prosecute alleged war criminals national governments who signed onto the ICC are unable or unwilling to prosecute on their own, and the first to be convicted of war crimes of a sexual nature, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison by the court.

    Is the US signed onto the ICC?

    Apparently not.

    1. That’s where my support breaks down.

      They’d put Truman in jail for war crimes if they could.

  6. I thought Sex Violence War Crimes was an album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    1. It’s their only decent album: one they didn’t release.

  7. I like reinforcing the idea that people’s rights exist above and apart from whatever any government says.

    1. Unfortunately, I suspect that message gets across in spite of the UN.

      Not because of it.

      1. They start of well, but then it gets, umm, odd:


        Article 24: everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

        Article 26, Sect. 1: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

        Article 27, Sect. 1: Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

        1. “On the basis of merit”

          Huh. Could have fooled me.

        2. Yeah.

          There’s a problem.

        3. “Right”

          They keep using that word….

  8. Countries must take care of their own legal systems. They can’t subcontract it out to International tribunals. This will not solve the problem. It seems like a noble idea but it will not reduce violence or sex trafficking or massacres. People who engage in such things aren’t exactly long term thinkers. We need to support basic human rights and stop supporting governments that oppose them and stop undermining reformers.

    1. Countries Individuals must take care of their own legal systems. They can’t subcontract it out to International government tribunals.

      It’s funny, how you can zoom in, zoom out, zoom in, and the picture stays the same.

      1. As above, so below.

    2. Yet its funny how these guys were *government officials*.

      1. “Anarchy is no guarantee that some people won’t kill, injure, kidnap, defraud, or steal from others. Government is a guarantee that some will” – Gustave de Molinari

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