Congo-Kinshasa: Congolese Peacekeepers Free Despite Murder of Civilians

Kinshasa — HUMAN rights activists believe courts have been too lenient on some Congolese peacekeepers convicted for the 2014 murder of 11 civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The three men have been slapped with three-year sentences.

Activists argue the punishment does not reflect the gravity of the crime and denies justice to the victims, who included pregnant women and babies.

The Appeals Court in Brazzaville has found the peacekeepers guilty of the murder of civilians in Boali.

Such crimes classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity under national and international law.

The men - Bonaventure Abena, Paterne Ngouala, and Kévin Pacôme Ntalani Bantsimba - are now free, having served most of the sentence pending the verdict.

"Giving the soldiers who committed murder little more than a slap on the wrist sent a damaging message to other peacekeepers that they risk little if they commit such crimes," argued rights advocate, Lewis Mudge.

Human rights groups first reported, in June 2014, enforced disappearances in Boali by peacekeepers from the Congo who were members of an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in CAR.

In 2016, an exhumation of a mass grave near the Congolese base uncovered the remains of 12 people. The victims were later identified as those detained by the peacekeepers in 2014.

They were detained following a clash between peacekeepers and a local militia leader, in which one peacekeeper died.

Angered by the death of their colleague, the peacekeepers surrounded the militia leader's house, killing one unarmed boy and arresting at least 12 other civilians.

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