March 12, 2011 12:15 ET

Minister Oda Supports Justice for DRC Rape Victims

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 12, 2011) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today issued the following statement regarding guilty verdicts from a military court in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in cases against 11 army officers.

The cases involved the rapes of 24 women that took place last September in Katasomwa, in South Kivu province, one of two provinces in which Canada works with the UN to combat sexual violence.

"Violence against women is always totally unacceptable. In the developing world, countless women face victimization and their attackers act with impunity. The guilty verdicts in the DRC are a significant step to ending this impunity," stated Minister Oda. "I applaud the victims who testified against their attackers. It is their courage that all countries must support as we continue the struggle to end to sexual violence."

The 11, all members of the Congolese army charged with rape, pillaging, destruction of schools, abduction of children and other violations of physical integrity, were found guilty and sentenced on Wednesday by the military tribunal of South Kivu in Kalehe.

Among those charged were high-ranking officers of the Congolese military based in Katasomwa. The two top ranking officers were sentenced to life in prison.

Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) supports programs in the DRC to assist the survivors of sexual violence. Working with the UN, Canada supports the Joint Initiative to Reduce Sexual Violence in the DRC. Through this work, Canada provided related training to 5,474 leaders, including parliamentarians, provincial and territorial leaders and provided supplies for 38 healthcare facilities. Canada's support for the victims of sexual violence provided 36,275 victimized people with healthcare support since the start of the project. Canada also provides psychosocial support and legal assistance.

Through this project, CIDA also provided support to the proceedings of the South Kivu military court in Kalehe, such as legal assistance provided to 19 victims of sexual violence, logistical (transportation and accommodation) support to 3 lawyers and 5 judges as well as other administrative support to allow for the court to convene. 

Canada also provides broader support to the Congolese authorities in their efforts to improve the rule of law and the military and civilian judicial systems in DRC. Canada contributes to the establishment of support mechanisms in the form of prosecution Support Cells and to the strengthening of judicial and penal institutions in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga (Tanganyika) and Orientale Province (Ituri, Haut Uele).

For further information please consult the statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Canada Encouraged by Conviction of High-ranking Officer of Congolese Armed Forces for Mass Rape in Democratic Republic of Congo (

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Justin Broekema
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office