DRC: Life sentence for a Kamuina Nsapu commander, victims acknowledged and satisfied
Nsumbu Katende, a commander of the armed insurrection Kamuina Nsapu, was found guilty of war crimes committed in Kasai in 2017. TRIAL International welcomes this verdict, which not only establishes the guilt of the accused, but also grants reparations to victims and recognizes the responsibility of the Congolese State.
“Today is an important day for justice in Central Kasai” says Guy Mushiata, “The condemnation of Nsumbu Katende proves those who thought impunity in the region was a fatality were wrong. It also shows the victims that they can be heard and obtain justice.”
Several positive elements of the verdict deserve to be saluted. Firstly, the qualification of the murders, torture and kidnapping as war crimes. This acknowledgment is testimony to the scale of the violence, and to its organized and systematic nature. Secondly, the judges granted reparations to all registered victims in the case – over 200. A symbolically meaningful gesture, but also a concrete way for survivors to rebuild their live.
Finally, even though Nsumbu Katende commanded an armed group, the Congolese State was also found responsible for the crimes. The judges considered that it had not done everything in its power to protect the civil population.
A first victory that could herald future ones
“For the first case brought in Kasai by TRIAL International and its partners, we are extremely satisfied” says Daniele Perissi, Head of the Great Lakes program at TRIAL International. “Today the magistrates of the Military Tribunal of Kananga have risen to the challenge of this complex case, leading us to hope that more victories against impunity will follow.”
A long-haul effort towards which TRIAL International works with other actors in the region as parts of a Collaboration Network.
TRIAL International collaborates in Kasai with Physicians for Human Rights, an NGO using medical evidence to document human rights abuses. Their joint project in Kasai aims to strengthen access to justice through a combination of legal and medical expertise. This project is generously funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida.