victims represented


new cases
at domestic level


new cases
at international level


legal practitioners trained


annual budget (CHF)

With a 64% increase in its budget compared to 2016, DRC has firmly established itself as TRIAL International’s biggest country program.

Another year of political deadlock

The year began on a hopeful note in DRC, as political actors agreed on scheduling long-overdue elections in 2017. Unfortunately, those pledges fizzled out and the country remained entrenched in a deep political crisis.

In several regions, a degradation of the security situation resulted in civil casualties, perpetrated by both militiamen and State officials. The final months of 2017 were particularly brutal, as security forces cracked down on citizens demonstrating against the constitutional deadlock.

Report denounces widespread impunity for sexual violence crimes


Landmark cases setting historical precedents

An unprecedented number of mass crimes trials have opened in Eastern DRC in 2017. In the province of South Kivu alone, three major trials led to the conviction of a dozen criminals for mass crimes, and victims were awarded significant reparations.

Nzovu massacre: militia members finally face justice 


In the mass child rape case of Kavumu, 11 Congolese militia members were convicted to life in prison for crimes against humanity. A sitting member of the local Parliament was also found guilty of funding and orchestrating the militia, setting a national first in DRC. TRIAL had worked throughout the year in order to gather incriminating evidence and testimonies, and coached the victims’ lawyers before and during the trial.

Landmark ruling condemns local deputy for crimes against humanity

Holistic support for victims

To ensure victims receive a holistic support in their quest for justice, TRIAL International has further developed its collaboration with in-fields actors. It has partnered with experts in complementary fields such as medicine, psychology, technology and security. Such partnerships in 2017 have included the United Nations Development Program, the MONUSCO, Panzi Hospital, and NGOs such as Witness and Physicians for Human Rights.

A psychologist alongside traumatized children

Beneficiaries’ safety is paramount but has proved challenging in DRC’s instable context, especially in high-profile criminal cases. TRIAL International collaborated with its partners specializing in security to ensure maximum protection for victims and witnesses. It also secured unprecedented protection measures from the Congolese judiciary itself, setting best practices for trials in the future.

Kavumu Case: An investigator at the heart of the issue

A wider range of capacity-building programs

In 2017, TRIAL extended the scope of its training programs to three new provinces. These trainings were also delivered to an unprecedented variety of judicial actors: from prosecutors to lawyers, magistrates and activists. By doing so, TRIAL International sought to consolidate the complete judicial chain in Eastern DRC.

Lawyers narrate everyday work in DRC

In total, 69 human rights defenders conducted field documentation missions for torture and sexual violence crimes; 20 prosecutors received an introduction to using video as evidence in court; and 66 lawyers received one-to-one coaching on international litigation standards and best practices.

Can video bring down impunity?

TRIAL International’s unique role in DRC

  • It is the only NGO to collaborate with Congolese lawyers in international litigation cases.
  • It is the only NGO to train local actors on the implementation of the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigations of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
  • It has developed a unique program on the use of new technologies in mass crimes cases.
  • It is the only actor in the DRC to support victims in financial compensation procedures.

Strengthening the legal system in lawless regions