NEWPORT – The 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize for International Peace, Dr. Denis Mukwege, offered a resounding endorsement of FARDC military justice for actions that reflect positively on the work of the U.S. Defense Institute for International Legal Studies (DIILS). Since 2008, DIILS has conducted an educational program to enhance the FARDC’s military justice capacity.
During remarks to a MONUSCO police delegation visiting his hospital in Bukavu on 4 September, Dr. Mukwege emphasized that for the first time, men who rape girls in Kavumu have been punished. He noted that the acts of military justice have contributed effectively to the significant decrease in the cases of rapes in the region of Kavumu in the Kabare territory, where the perpetrators were convicted for crimes against humanity.
Dr. Mukwege is the Director of the US-funded Panzi Institute in Bukavu, and subject of the Thierry Michel/Colette Braeckman film “The Man Who Repairs Women.” He stated: "In cases of rape, collaboration is better with military justice than with civilian justice when such cases [fall under] military justice [jurisdiction]. Which is good and it must be said. This time, with the children of Kavumu, military justice finally showed that it can play its role fully, and the role that military justice played has brought calm to Kavumu. Ever since the suspects were arrested, the number of victims in Kavumu has dropped to almost zero, so today we've had almost a year with just one or two cases.”
Two DIILS alumni played key roles in the trial that Dr. Mukwege cites. DIILS alumnus Col Roger Wavara, Chief Prosecutor for South Kivu, based in Bukavu, prosecuted the Kavamu Village mass child rape cases. That trial was conducted in November 2017 as a mobile court in Kavamu, the village nearest the scene of the mass crimes. One month later, a court-martial sentenced Frederic Batumike and ten of his accomplices to life in prison for "crimes against humanity by rape." BG Laurent Mutata, also a DIILS alumnus and former DIILS instructor, prosecuted the July 2018 hearing on appeal. This hearing was before the Superior Military Court, sitting as a mobile court in Bukavu on the initiative of then-Chief Military Judge, Delphin Nyembo (LTG, retired).
"The Congolese military court conducted this trial with professionalism. It is a first and I think it will serve as a precedent for the future," said the head of the Panzi Hospital.