International Criminal Court makes landmark ruling and finally recognises rape as a war crime – – Our News, Your Views

International Criminal Court makes landmark ruling and finally recognises rape as a war crime


There was a landmark ruling in the International Criminal Court (ICC) recently after the former Congolese vice president was convicted for the crimes of rape which were committed by members of his militia during 2002 and 2003.

The latest conviction was hailed as a step in the right direction in the fight against sex crimes during conflict. The man sentenced for the horrific sex crimes Jean-Pierre Bemba marked has become the first leading commander in history to be found guilty of organising the barbaric sexual attacks on innocent civilians during an ongoing conflict.  

The latest judgement was the ICC’s first ever conviction to recognise rape as a war crime and crime against humanity. Bemba aged 53, was also found guilty of ordering his militia to commit multiple murders during his reign. Bemba was found guilty by a panel of judges at The Hague recently, he will be sentenced following a separate hearing.

The details of Bemba’s horrific war crimes were outlined by Judge Steiner of Brazil, who said a litany of rapes were carried out by members of Bemba’s militia, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, after they were deployed to Central African Republic to help forces loyal to then-president Ange-Feliz Patasse fight rebels led by Francois Bozize. Bozize’s forces ultimately won and he replaced Patasse as president.

Judge Steiner revealed a large number of innocent women, girls and men were targeted by Bemba’s forces. “Entire families were victimised,” Judge Steiner said. “Victims included the elderly men, women and children.”

Commander Bemba was subsequently convicted even though he spent much of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The news of Bemba’s conviction has been welcomed by Human rights activists worldwide.

“This first guilty verdict at the ICC for sexual violence shines a spotlight on the use of rape as a weapon of war,” Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “There is still a profound need for justice for these crimes and other atrocities in both the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Bemba is from and mainly operated.

“The ICC prosecutor should bring further cases against those who bear responsibility for the gravest crimes in these countries.”

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