During Congo's nearly two decades of war, observers have witnessed some of the most horrific war crimes in modern memory, including the use of rape as a tool of war. The practice goes far beyond the rape-and-pillage practices of old, and in fact is used by the commanders of militias and even the Congolese Army itself to both punish far-flung communities and to intimidate them into compliance.
According to Human Rights Watch, 15,000 cases of sexual violence were reported in 2009, and 7,685 cases were reported in the first six months of 2010. Prosecution of perpetrators, including militia and political commanders, has begun at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, but some ICC-indicted suspects remain at large, including Congolese Army Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who continues to carry out joint exercises in eastern Congo, apparently without fear of arrest by United Nations peacekeepers.
(On another front, prosecution has been successful. With his 14-year prison sentence for the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Congo, announced July 10, rebel com-mander Thomas Lubanga became the first person in history to be sentenced by the ICC.)