On 21 March 2016, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba of war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the form of rape, murder and pillage, perpetrated in the Central African Republic (CAR) from 2 October 2002 to 15 March 2003.
Backing-up CAR’s then President Patassé, Bemba was the military leader of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and in charge of the armed groups who “knowingly and intentionally” committed multiple acts of rape against the elderly, men, women, and children. This case means that, for the first time, justice has been done for the victims of sexual violence before the ICC and they will be able to claim reparations. This is also the first time the ICC has convicted an individual in his capacity as a superior for crimes committed by persons under his command.
The information transmitted by FIDH to the ICC was used not only by the prosecutor during her investigation, but also quoted in the verdict. FIDH and its member organisations in CAR have been key players over the past 15 years, contributing both to the establishment of the facts and providing evidence. In 2002, FIDH’s fact-finding mission resulted in the ‘War crimes in CAR’ report submitted to the ICC and calling for an investigation. A number of subsequent missions and reports have followed and been transferred to the ICC where they have been cited in evidence.