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Death, Disease, and Destruction Previous

In eastern Congo, the violence continues to recur in spurts, never dissipating enough to provide real security for civilians or allow lasting reconstruction. The central government is weak and unable to effectively secure and govern the entire country. Despite the end to official hostilities and numerous ceasefires, thousands of people continue to die every month from war-related causes. Rape, attacks by armed forces, and the humanitarian crisis caused by the collapse of much of the country’s health system and economic structures remain serious and constant threats to the population. Hundreds of thousands of women have been raped or sexually mutilated, leading to a host of complex health problems for survivors. Many women and their children are abandoned by their husbands and communities. New waves of violence and reprisal attacks continue to displace millions.

Justice

On June 23, 2004, Luis Moreno Ocampo, then-prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [ICC], announced that the Court's first-ever investigation would probe crimes committed throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In March 2006, Thomas Lubanga, a rebel commander operating in eastern Congo, became the first person arrested under an ICC arrest warrant. He was charged with war crimes for recruiting child soldiers during the Second Congo War. Two rebels who fought against Lubanga's militia, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, were also arrested on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In May 2008, former vice-president and presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba, wanted by the ICC on several counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for leading Congolese rebels in a widespread and systematic attack against the Central African Republic's civilian population in 2002 and 2003, was arrested in Brussels by Belgian authorities and transferred to The Hague.

In 2010, the United Nations released a report on human rights violations in the Congo. Published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the report outlined the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the DRC between 1993 and 2003 and offered a range of transitional justice options to deal with the legacy of the crimes. The report provided a shocking picture of violence directed against civilians in the Congo by multiple perpetrators over more than a decade. The report charged that attacks carried out in 1996 and 1997 by the Rwandan army and their rebel allies against Hutu civilians in the DRC may constitute genocide, but deferred judgment on this question to the courts. It also documented crimes allegedly committed by the government of Mobutu Sese Seko, other national militaries and militias, including Ugandan, Burundian, and Congolese rebels. The report provided guidance for the Congolese and international authorities on how to prosecute perpetrators and address victims’ rights.