Publisher: University of Calabar

Rape As A Weapon In African Conflicts: A Perspective On The Conviction of Congolese Vice President

James E. Archibong
KEYWORDS: Rape, Armed Conflict, Weapon of War, Africa, Accountability, Justice


Rape is rampant in African conflicts, as well as conflicts in other parts of the world. It has been used as a weapon of war to intimidate, extract information, torture and spread terror. Current international law condemns this development, and is ready to hold the perpetrators accountable for it. In this regard, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Vice President of Congo (as he then was) was arrested in Belgium in 2008 on a warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for rape committed by his forces in the Central African Republic. This article examines the culpability of top state officials such as presidents and vice presidents who fail to restrain or punish perpetrators of rape under their command. The method adopted is doctrinal, relying on systematic analysis of legal principles as expounded in treaties, judicial decisions, journals, law reviews and internet materials. It has been found that rape is prevalent in conflicts in Africa; commanders are unwilling to stop it; and international courts are ready to punish violators. It is recommended that political and military leaders must suppress and punish all acts of rape by their troops; and the ICC should intensify the act of prosecution. The imprisonment of Bemba affirms that nobody is above the law, and that rapists will someday face justice before their victims.

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