S.A. v. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are rampant in the war-torn provinces of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With the support of civil society organisations some survivors manage to overcome the numerous obstacles in accessing justice and obtain an award of damages against the state of DRC for the harm they suffered at the hands of state agents, such as members of the military. However, the DRC has failed so far to fulfill their legal obligation to enforce these court-ordered compensations and pay the victims.

On 21 November 2014, REDRESS and Synergie pour l'assistance judiciaire aux victimes de violation des droits humains au Nord Kivu (SAJ) filed a communication with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) on behalf of a female rape victim who was awarded damages against the state but has not received any payments until today. The victim, S.A. (name given to her to protect her identity) was raped by a member of the Armed Forces in the late 2000s, in the context of the armed conflict in Eastern DRC. During the attack, the soldier also stole all the family's savings.

The communication sets out the legal framework of court-ordered damages in the DRC and the obstacles faced by victims when seeking enforcement of these awards. REDRESS and SAJ argue that the failure of DRC to provide any payments to S.A. constitutes a violation of the rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Protocol to the Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, in particular the right to a remedy and the right to reparation for victims of violence against women.


On 2 February 2017, human rights organisation TRIAL filed an amicus brief to the ACPHR in this communication on reparation for sexual violence in the DRC.

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