New York -The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms Zainab Bangura, has hailed the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Congolese rebel leader, Mr Bosco Ntaganda, which opened on Wednesday at The Hague.
Bangura, in a statement on Thursday in New York, said the trial served as a powerful reminder to military leaders accused of similar acts that justice would ultimately prevail.
The UN envoy described the ICC trial as “a victory for survivors of the savage attacks allegedly perpetrated under Mr. Ntaganda’s military leadership”.
According to her, the trial is also a victory for the families of those survivors and human rights advocates fighting on their behalf.
The UN official commended the ICC for pursuing the case and praised the victims, witnesses and experts taking part the trial.
“Their courage and resolve to see justice done is inspirational for us in the international community, as we continue to fight together to eradicate sexual violence in conflict, “ she said.
Bangura also said her office, as well as the UN Team of Experts and UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict would continue supporting Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government to enforce its anti-sexual violence commitments.
“I was pleased to hear that a military court charged 18 soldiers and police officers with murders and rape in connection with crimes committed in Kasindi, Mbau, Nobili and Kamango localities in the eastern North Kivu,” she said.
She also called upon the DRC government to ensure the implementation of the armed forces action plan against sexual violence to bring perpetrators to justice and to give reparations to victims.
Ntaganda stands accused of 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity committed in 2002 and 2003.
He was former Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Force Patriotiques pour la Liberation du Congo (FPLC).
The charges against him include rape, murder, and the conscription of child soldiers. Ntaganda pleaded not guilty as the trial entered its first day. (PANA/NAN)