Press release

Baroness Anelay and Angelina Jolie Pitt statement on ICC verdict

Baroness Anelay and Angelina Jolie Pitt welcome the International Criminal Court’s verdict that Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity

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Human Rights Minister and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Baroness Anelay, said:

I welcome the guilty verdict in this groundbreaking case. This is a milestone in prosecuting crimes of sexual violence in conflict through the international justice system.

This is the first case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to allege that a commander is criminally responsible for abuses carried out by their troops, even if they did not order the violence. It is also the first case before the ICC to focus heavily on sexual violence and rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Although the suffering of the survivors and relatives of those abused or killed cannot be erased, today’s verdict sends a powerful message that those who allow such atrocities to occur will be held accountable for their actions and that there will be no impunity.

Angelina Jolie Pitt Co-Founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative said:

My thoughts and my admiration go out to the survivors and witnesses who bravely testified in this case and contributed to this landmark conviction. I hope it will serve as a warning to perpetrators of rape everywhere.

I can only imagine the reaction of victims who in their hearts probably never thought that this day would come.

It is shocking that this conviction is the first of its kind. It is a reminder of how long it has taken us to reach this point, and how many victims have never seen justice. So while it is a monumental step, it is still only a first step.

I urge the international community to build on the important legal precedent that has been established: to bring forward more cases, gather the necessary evidence and support witnesses, in order that we can collectively shatter impunity for the use of rape as a weapon of war and terrorism.

Further information

  • Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was tried for two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) allegedly committed in the context of the situation in Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

  • Some 1,500 Bemba troops allegedly went on a rampage of killings, rapes and pillage in villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northern neighbour from October 2002 to March 2003.

  • Follow Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay on Twitter @JoyceAnelay

  • Follow the Foreign Office on Twitter @foreignoffice

  • Follow the Foreign Office on Facebook and Google+

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Published 21 March 2016