Kavumu trial maintained to 9 November
Geneva, 9 November 2017 – After several days of uncertainty, the trial for the Kavumu rapes will finally open today in Bukavu (South Kivu). Nearly five years after the first attacks and following an international mobilization of supporters, 18 suspects are facing charges, including a local politician. The trial will be a turning point for the fight against impunity in DRC.
Today, international observers will pay close attention to the village of Kavumu in Congo’s eastern province of South Kivu. It will be the epicenter of one of the most anticipated trials of the year. The defendants are alleged members of an armed militia who, for years, abducted and raped children in this village.
The trial was originally planned to start on Monday 6 November. Due to the instable context in the region, it was postponed at the last moment to 9 November and then to 20 November. In a dramatic turn of events, the trial date changed again yesterday night, and was moved back to today, 9 November 2017.
“We are delighted that the trial will take place sooner rather than later“, says Daniele Perissi, Head of the DRC program at TRIAL International. “The victims have been waiting for years, they deserve a prompt and exemplary trial“.
A symbol of impunity
In just a few short years, Kavumu has been a symbol both of the large-scale crimes of sexual violence that have devastated the country, and a demonstration of the impunity with which those crimes are accompanied. The trial itself is one of the few of its kind and could set a crucial precedent.
The importance of Kavumu extends far beyond the impact on survivors and their families says Philip Grant, Director of TRIAL International. This trial punctures the code of silence and undermines the judicial inertia that often surrounds sexual violence cases in South Kivu. That authorities are now fully reckoning with this issue head-on is a huge step forward for Congolese justice.
The trial was supposed to end on Saturday 25 November. But at the request of the military court and after consulting the relevant partners, it was decided that the trial will continue until Thursday 30 November.
The sentence should be announced on Monday 4 December 2017.