The 2nd of January arrest of former RCD-N rebel group leader Roger Lumbala in Paris is a crucial move forward in the international fight against impunity.
The Crimes against Humanity Unit of the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Lumbala on the charge of criminal acts targeting the civilian population from 2002 to 2003 during the armed conflict that plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The investigating magistrate charges Lumbala with “participation in an armed group formed for the preparation of crimes against humanity” and “complicity of crimes against humanity” committed during the Second Congo War, as these crimes have no statute of limitations. He will be held accountable for various charges of murder, pillaging, torture and rape.
This procedure was carried out by application of the principle of universal jurisdiction which operates on the basis of the gravity of the crime rather than a personal or territorial link,allowing the French justice system to prosecute and judge alleged perpetrators and accomplices of the most serious international crimes while they are on French territory.
This is the first indictment pronounced referencing the United Nations Mapping Report published in 2010. The UN Mapping Report documents the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed from 1993 to 2003 in the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo. During this period, sexual violence was systematically used as a weapon of war by the various combatant forces. This indictment represents an important step forward for international criminal justice and the struggle against impunity.
The Mukwege Foundation, together with Dr Mukwege and the global network of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (SEMA), will continue to advocate for a world where the use of sexual violence as a weapon a war is no longer tolerated and calls upon other States to initiate further proceedings on the basis of universal jurisdiction for acts of conflict-related sexual violence.