Jean-Pierre Bemba convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes in a landmark verdict

By International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)

Today, the Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, for crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003. Our organisations strongly welcome this historical verdict at the ICC which for the first time convicts an accused, as superior, for rape and emphasise the great achievement it represents for thousands of victims who have longed for justice. “Bemba's conviction sends a powerful message that the perpetrators of international crimes, irrespective of their political functions, cannot be shielded from justice and will be held accountable for their crimes.” said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty of rape, murder and pillage in his capacity as military commander of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo. The significance of this verdict derives from two important precedents it has established. First, it is the first case at the ICC to focus heavily on crimes of sexual violence, including rape, as a war crime and a crime against humanity. Crimes of sexual violence against women, men, and children were used as a means to terrorise CAR civilian population. Secondly, the judges held an accused criminally responsible as a military commander for crimes committed by troops under his control for the first time at the ICC.