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American Bar Association

With ABA Help, Mobile Court Tries Gender Crimes in Country Known as World’s Rape Capital

Posted Feb 11, 2011 12:06 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An unusual court that travels to remote communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo is trying 11 government soldiers accused of raping more than 60 women in attacks on New Year’s Day.

The so-called mobile gender court conducts about 10 trials a month and has so far gained 94 rape convictions, reports the Guardian.Co.UK. The soldiers' trial is being held in Baraka for alleged crimes committed in a nearby town on New Year’s Day.

“The latest trial is seen as a test of whether the government is serious about tackling Congo's reputation as the rape capital of the world, where sexual offenders do not fear prosecution,” the Guardian story says.

The court is coordinated by the American Bar Association, with funding from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The Guardian interviewed Charles-Guy Makongo, country director of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said mobile courts “are essential tools to improve the access to justice for people in the remote areas.” The courts “contribute to the fight against impunity and specifically against impunity in relation with sexual violence,” he said.

Hat tip to the ABA Rule of Law Initiative on Facebook.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: “A Brutal Pandemic: ABA urges passage of measure aimed at curbing violence against women worldwide”

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