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Congolese military justice officials trained in sex crime investigation

By MONUC | Published on February 11, 2008

MONUC's Rule of Law division in conjunction with the American Defence Institute of International Legal Studies organized a four-day comprehensive judicial capacity building training workshop on sex crime investigation, targeting 42 military investigators, prosecutors and magistrates, drawn from the entire province of Orientale. The legal technical training, which was the first of its kind commenced on 30 January 2008 in Kisangani, Orientale.

MONUC’s Rule of Law division in conjunction with the American Defence Institute of International Legal Studies organized a four-day comprehensive judicial capacity building training workshop on sex crime investigation, targeting 42 military investigators, prosecutors and magistrates, drawn from the entire province of Orientale. The legal technical training, which was the first of its kind commenced on 30 January 2008 in Kisangani, Orientale.

The judicial expertise workshop was sponsored by the American Defence Institute of International Legal Studies, and officially opened by the Provincial Minister of the Interior and Justice, Mr. Michel Draso Angotowa, accompanied by MONUC Kisangani head of office Mr. Ivan Timnev, the FARDC 9th Military Commander, General Jean-Claude Kifwa, American deputy sector commander of the homeland security department (investigator and instructor), Captain Peter Simons, among other high ranking military justice officials.

The veteran judicial trainers included three American military justice experts, three Congolese from the military division and one expert from MONUC’s Rule of Law Kinshasa office. The main focus and objective was investigations of sex crimes, a category of offence so rampant in DR Congo which is not only criminal, but is specifically a human rights abuse.

In his opening speech, MONUC Kisangani head of office, Ivan Timnev, said that “this training will not only help reduce the sexual violence scourge in the DRC, but also enhance the quality and capacity building of the magistrates who will then help bring offenders to book.”

“The military will show and lead the way in following the law, therefore reducing sexual violence significantly and I hope the military justice will be credible for DRC justice to uphold the rule of law,” Mr. Timnev concluded.

The Provincial Minister of Interior and Justice said that “this training is very important and is in the interest of the judiciary, which has the obligation of controlling and upholding justice within our Congolese armed forces. I think the results of this unique training will help the military desist from such ill practices, to create the optimum conditions for the country to acquire skills, and to reinforce justice and peace. I now ask the participants to apply diligently the knowledge that will be given to you and put it into practice,” he said.

For his part, the FARDC 9th Region Commander General Kifwa said “it’s a good initiative because the supreme authorities extol reform in the army, security services and justice. The trainees will acquire good investigative techniques on sexual violence. With all the wars, our country has experienced sexual crimes committed by men in military uniform, but with this seminar I really think we’ll be able put an end to sexual violence in our military region.”

Introducing and outlining the training benchmarks, Captain Peter Simons, the chief investigations instructor, said the training seminar is a first time collaboration between the DRC government, the United Nations and the American government.

“These crimes are gross and unspeakable therefore we are going to work closely with the participants and help them,” he said.

He said they chose military magistrates because they have an important role to play in the military judicial system in Congo, and American experience could reinforce the capacities of the magistrates and investigators in the DRC.

“For us, if a soldier commits such a crime in the United States the military judicial system would deal with the offender accordingly. We can introduce such a thorough system in Congo by training the military magistrates and investigators to put to in place such procedures,” he added.

Captain Simons said the trained magistrates and investigators will return back to their bases in the province, and train other magistrates accordingly.

“Our objective here is to collaborate because we are committed to bringing offenders to justice and stop this problem which affects the reputation of the army. The training programme is aimed at creating an awareness of the problem.”

The programme will continue in May 2008 for the other provinces.

After four days of practical and technical training, the session was officially closed by the provincial deputy governor, Jose Bangakia.

“This course is very significant because it directly confronts the sexual violence menace, perpetrated by negative forces and the army, which has destabilized Congolese families as well. The army is for the people, to serve and protect the population as a professional army and not to commit such acts,” said the governor.

He also underlined the importance of the knowledge gained from the training in capacity building, respect of law and good discipline to the military justice officers, in order to maintain law and order within the army.

The provincial military court president, Colonel Moliba said: “We have learnt a lot, and this will simplify the job of the magistrates on the subject of sex crime investigations, and reaching a correct verdict. It is important professionally as well because the population always thinks the army is not serious on this subject. We hope this will continue.”

Meanwhile, MONUC-Kisangani Correction Officer David Macharia expressed satisfaction on the training.

“It should be noted that many of the participants have not undergone any form of further training since leaving school and in their deployment as judicial officers, in spite of the many changes that have taken place in the respective field of application, hence the tremendous appreciation of this conference,” he declared.

“This training conference was a quick access to justice. The period of detention will be considerably reduced because the knowledge they have gained would enable them investigate sex crime cases faster. Consequently there should be no prolonged detentions, thus having an impact on reducing congestion in the prisons,” he concluded.

@Congoplanet |

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