A recent U.N. report has for the first time explicitly named a number of armed groups and military forces around the world suspected to be the worst perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence. The annual report, which was released in January, identifies extreme cases of sexual violence, provides examples of how sexual violence has threatened security and impeded peacebuilding in post-conflict situations, and makes strategic recommendations on how to prevent such offenses in the future. Read More »
Singer/songwriter and activist Courtney B. Wong's video about conflict minerals from Congo first caught the eye of the Raise Hope for Congo campaign team on YouTube last month. In this guest blog post, Wong writes about her motivation and dedication to her activism to end human trafficking.
In a report released today, “Time Works Against Justice: Ending Impunity in Eastern Congo,” the Enough Project looks at the historical precedent of a failed Congolese justice system and its far reaching effects on the peace and reconciliation process. The paper delves into the historical context for the culture of impunity in Congo and describes both the daily injustices and the blatantly egregious high-level examples of corruption that perpetuate a culture of fear, hopelessness, and resentment among the civilian population. Read More »
WASHINGTON – The United States and the international community must strongly support Congolese partners to reform the country’s justice system in order to break the flagrant cycle of impunity and promote accountability, according to a new Enough Project report.
“There has never been a systematic attempt to address the issue of impunity within the Congolese justice system,” said Aaron Hall, Enough Project Congo policy analyst and report co-author. “The lack of accountability for war crimes including the murder of civilians, rape, plunder, and extortion is one of the key obstacles to creating an environment for peace and development in eastern Congo.”
The international community should use a multi-pronged approach of state-level conditionally-based pressure and civil society support to ensure Congo implements Specialized Mixed Courts to try international human rights crimes committed in Congo that fall outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, according to the paper.
The international community should also work with local implementing partners to expand the jurisdiction of mobile courts to include economic crimes and the pillaging of community property and natural resources.
“Given the current state of the justice system in the Congo, those Congolese champions who wish to enact reform require international partnership at the onset,” said Annette LaRocco, Enough Project researcher and report co-author. “Otherwise, the obstacles are too great and the resources too few.”
Other recommendations include pressuring the Congolese and Rwandans to arrest indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, who is currently a general in the Congolese army, expanding international and national judicial focus on pillaging of property and natural resources, and supporting Truth and Reconciliation Commissions to allow communities to use traditional conflict resolution methods.
This paper addresses the challenges of justice reform in Congo and explores potential solutions for the future. The ideas set forth are gleaned from discussions with many individuals on the front lines in this battle against impunity.
Faced with a constant slate of storyboards pitching “us versus them” versions of the world, filmmaker and social activist Mike Ramsdell asks the question, “What if we decided to tell each other stories that unite? That empower? That engage?”
Instead of taking the common, distant approach towards telling the story of Congo, Ramsdell, in his recent TEDx talk, offers what he hopes will be a more effective strategy for galvanizing action. Read More »
Amani Matabaro sits surrounded by 16 women from Mumosho, the village in eastern Congo where he was born and raised. He translates from Mashi and Swahili into English, so the women can share their lives, their experiences of trauma, and their hopes with us. As volunteers who run Action Kivu in support of Amani’s Congolese non-profit, Cate Haight and I recently traveled to Congo, ringing in 2012 in Bukavu and Mumosho, surrounded by the women and children whom Amani serves through education assistance, sewing workshops, micro-finance loans, and much more.
Sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, does not just affect an individual but also has the power to permeate an entire community. Often these acts are carried out during periods of conflict or post-conflict transitions when rule of law is weak and a culture of impunity reigns.