new victims supported


new cases at national level


trained legal professionals


annual budget (CHF)

Major victories in the courtroom brought closure to hundreds of victims, reinforced TRIAL International’s recognition in Eastern DRC, and led to an expansion of its geographical span.   

Unstable year culminates in tense elections

After a delay of over two years, presidential elections were held on 30 December 2018. As the voting date approached, the repression of political opponents and human rights activists increased, as well as general insecurity. More than once, the Congolese authorities turned their back on international pacification efforts.

Read more: Kinshasa sends alarming message to the international community

Violence and armed conflict continued to plague several regions in the country, especially in the East. Both security forces and non-state armed groups committed mass abuse against civilians, including rape, killings, pillaging and torture.

Watch the testimony of “Gloria”, a victim of sexual slavery  

Answering to instability with cooperation

The political context increased tensions within the country, as well as between the international community and the Congolese government. As an international NGO registered in the country, TRIAL International was able to continue its actions by strengthening its collaboration with provincial and national authorities.

Thanks to outstanding results in the courtroom, the organization demonstrated its added-value in consolidating national prosecutorial efforts and confirmed itself as an ally in building the rule of law.

Read more: Long-stalling proceedings reopen against two militia leaders

Many other partners were also instrumental in this effort. In South Kivu, TRIAL International conducted all its litigation actions in the framework of the Task Force for International Justice, a MONUSCO-led network of domestic and international actors supporting the prosecution of mass crimes.

Read more: Army chief condemned for the Mirenzo crimes

 Finally, a partnership with the newly created Great Lakes Association Bar laid the foundations of TRIAL International’s cross-border strategy in the region. To facilitate exchanges between, and systematize its support to legal practitioners, the organization delivered its first joint training to Rwandan, Congolese and Burundian lawyers in October 2018.

Read more: First Great Lakes training launches regional strategy

Expanding activities to North Kivu

Thanks to its increasing recognition in South Kivu, in May 2018, TRIAL International was invited to join the fight against impunity in North Kivu. For maximum impact and better proximity with its partners and beneficiaries, TRIAL International maintained a permanent presence in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in the second half of the year. Through collaboration, it contributed to the opening of the first mass crimes trial in Goma in years.

Read more: Time for accountability for warlord Ntabo “Sheka” Ntaberi

Local capacity-building bears fruit

Throughout 2018, TRIAL International reinforced its long-standing links with Panzi Hospital, run by Nobel Prize-winner Dr Denis Mukwege. It offered several training sessions on the documentation and prosecution of international crimes to the lawyers working at the Hospital’s law clinic.

Watch Dr Mukwege’s interview on his collaboration with TRIAL International

 The partnership with Panzi Hospital already proved crucial in 2017, to secure the historical Kavumu verdict. This year, thanks to a renewed collaboration, the conviction of all the accused (including a provincial parliamentarian) for the mass rape of very young girls was upheld on appeal.

Read more: Highest domestic jurisdiction confirms Kavumu verdict

Increasing the capacity to collect audiovisual evidence for trial also demonstrated its efficiency. In September 2018, two warlords were convicted in Bukavu for crimes against humanity. In an all-time first in DRC, video footage was shown in court to demonstrate the gravity of the crimes. TRIAL International and its partners WITNESS and eyeWitness to Atrocities trained, supported and advised the lawyers in the collection and use of incriminating audiovisual content.

Read more: Video evidence helps secure double conviction