Six years after one of the worst single incidents of mass rape ever recorded in the 21st century, no perpetrator of the Walikale mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has ever been brought to trial in either a domestic or international forum. The attacks were condemned at the time by the United Nations Security Council, which urged swift prosecution. The hundreds of victims have never received any acknowledgment or reparation from the Congolese State. It is high time the lead perpetrator charged with these crimes, Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, be arrested and justice delivered to the victims of these horrific crimes.
We call on the Congolese government to implement the arrest warrant in this case and begin a serious process to acknowledge the suffering of the Walikale victims and provide them urgently needed reparation.
Background: Between 30 July and 2 August 2010, a coalition of fighters from the Mai Mai Sheka/Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC) led by Ntabo Ntaberi, known as Sheka (Sheka); the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) led by Captain Serafin Lionso; and a group of army deserters led by Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Nsengiyumva attacked 13 villages in the Walikale territory of the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During that attack, the UN peacekeeping operation, MONUSCO, and its joint human rights office, JHRO, concluded that at least 387 civilians, including 300 women, 23 men, 55 girls, and 9 boys were raped. At the same time, 923 houses and 42 shops were looted, and 116 civilians were abducted and subjected to forced labor.
In late 2010, Congolese authorities launched a judicial investigation. As a result, eight arrest warrants were issued. One of the alleged perpetrators named Mr. Mayele was apprehended and died in prison due to illness. A second suspect, Lt. Colonel Nsengiyumva, was killed in a separate incident. Another suspect was arrested but escaped from prison in 2012. The main leader, Sheka, however, has never been arrested and, in fact, ran for office in 2011. In November 2011, the UN Security Council added Sheka to its UN sanction list for DRC, freezing his assets and imposing a worldwide travel ban.
More recently, in 2015, the suspect Seraphin Lionso was “discovered” in detention. He is purportedly located in Ngenga prison, but has not yet been brought to trial.
In the spring of 2016, Congolese military justice authorities met to prioritize a judicial response to several pending cases of grave international crimes committed in the eastern Congo. One of the prioritized cases is the Walikale mass rape incident. This prioritization has had substantial support from the current Minister of Justice. According to individuals monitoring the situation, Mr. Lionso is meant to be transferred to the military court in North Kivu for trial, but this has not yet occurred.
Yet, of extreme concern, Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the leader of the Mai Mai Sheka/NDC remains at large. He has reportedly engaged in several murders (including of two Congolese Armed Forces officers); child recruitment; and sexual slavery. As recently as 24 June 2016, MONUSCO reported that it had to deploy peacekeepers due to attacks on civilians by Mai Mai Sheka’s militia group. Sheka’s connections to both the Congolese and Rwandan governments are believed by some to be a reason for the failure to arrest him. In May 2016 a media article profiled the alleged perpetrator of the Walikale crimes. The author was able to interview the warlord in person. Sheka’s camp is purportedly located within hiking distance of Pinga, North Kivu, DRC.
 See: Rapport préliminaire de la mission d’enquête du Bureau Conjoint des Nations Unies aux Droits de l’Homme sur les viols massifs et autres violations des droits de l’homme commis par une coalition de groupes armés sur l’axe Kibua-Mpofi, en territoire de Walikale, province du Nord-Kivu, du 30 juillet au 2 août 2010 (24 September 2010); Final Report of the Fact-Finding Missions of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office into the mass rapes and other human rights violations committed by a coalition of armed groups along the Kibua-Mpofi Axis in Walikale territory<http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/CD/BCNUDHRapportViolsMassifsKibuaMpofi_en.pdf>, North Kivu, From 30 July to 2 August 2010 (July 2011).
See: HRW, Democratic Republic of Congo: Ending Impunity for Sexual Violence: New Judicial Mechanism Needed to Bring Perpetrators to Justice, 10 June 2014<https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/06/10/democratic-republic-congo-ending-impunity-sexual-violence>
See: HRW, DR Congo: Wanted Rebel’s Troops Instill Fear - 4 Years Since Arrest Warrant, Sheka Still At Large,<https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/06/dr-congo-wanted-rebels-troops-instill-fear> 6 January 2015.
For Mr. Sheka’s involvement with Rwanda, see: Richard Mosse, Portrait of a Warlord, Yale Insight Magazine (May 2016) available at: http://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/portrait-warlord.
 See above.