On June 25, the International Criminal Court (ICC) dropped their appeal against the acquittal of Congolese warlord Germain Katanga on charges of rape and sexual slavery. Katanga was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in March of this year. After the verdict was handed down, the ICC Prosecution launched its appeal of Katanga's acquittal on sexual violence charges.
The ICC withdrew their appeal citing the acceptance of the conviction by Katanga and his “expression of sincere regret” to the victims.
This decision comes as a blow to women's rights groups who have been working to ensure justice for survivors of rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By not pursuing the charges of rape and sexual slavery against Katanga, there is concern that a precedent has been set for the future prosecution of crimes of rape and gender-based violence in conflict.
The reasoning behind the ICC’s decision to drop the appeal is unclear as there was no legal obligation to do so. The legal representative for victims in this case has also expressed disapproval and disappointment with this decision.