N. was raped at her home in 2014 by a Colonel of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). He was her husband’s colleague. Like countless victims of rape, N. was place in the dock by her community, leaving her isolated and stigmatized for a crime of which she was a victim.
Despite the pressure put on her, N. had the courage to file a complaint, but the case was put on hold after the perpetrator of the crime – the Colonel – tried to enter into an amicable agreement with the victim to terminate the criminal prosecution. This practice, which is illegal under such circumstances, is all too often used to buy the victim’s silence.
Determined to obtain justice, N. filed a new criminal complaint with TRIAL International’s help, but the investigation is at a standstill. Faced with this deadlock at national level, TRIAL decided to act in parallel at regional level: it filed a complaint before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, asking it to acknowledge the violence committed by State agents in the DRC, in this instance by the Colonel.
This case of rape perpetrated by a high-ranking army officer is representative not only of the scourge of sexual violence in the DRC, but also of the military justice system’s inability or unwillingness to punish crimes committed by senior army officers.