Today, 21 June 2016, the ICC’s Trial Chamber III sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba to 18 years of imprisonment. Bemba is the highest-ranking official to date to be sentenced. Two other individuals previously convicted by the court, Congolese nationals Thomas Lubanga and Germain Katanga, were sentenced to prison terms of 14 years and 12 years respectively.
In its March 21, verdict the TCIII marked an important milestone in punishing sexual and gender-based crimes at the ICC for the first time. The Chamber found Bemba guilty beyond reasonable doubt as a military commander responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003.
“The Court addressed the liability of the accused under the command responsibility doctrine. As the commander in charge, Bemba failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or repress the commission of the crimes or to submit the matter to competent authorities for investigation and prosecution. This landmark judgement definitely strengthens the ICC’s credibility throughout the African continent, where it has been accused often of bias and politicization.”
Dr. Aaron Matta, Senior Researcher