Life sentence for rebel Chance Mihonya for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and environmental crimes


Lawyers behind their bench follow the trial.

On September 21, 2021, the Military Court of South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) issued a ruling against the former rebel leader, Chance Mihonya. Mihonya was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and environmental crimes and sentenced to life in prison. The International Criminal Justice Task Force, which ABA ROLI is a member of, provided financial and technical support for the mobile court that the hearing was issued at. It is one of several ABA ROLI efforts contributing to the administration of justice and the fight against impunity for international crimes in the eastern DRC.

This verdict brought relief to the local population, especially the 87 victims who received justice in the case. The court ordered reparation to each of the victims ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 and ordered Mihonya to pay these damages in solidum with the Congolese state. Mihonya’s accomplice Benjamin Mazambi Boji (Boji) was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Testimony of one of the victims who was covered in a mask and whose testimony was given under a muffled voice.

The court ruling was reached following an eight-day mobile court hearing held in Katana, South Kivu, from September 13-20, 2021. ABA ROLI provided holistic legal assistance to victims of sexual and gender-based violence, ensuring their legal recognition and obtaining judicial reparations.

The victims and witnesses gave their testimonies in the area where the crimes were committed. Thousands of people were sitting in the audience day and night throughout the hearing, including men, women, and children, a sign of the trial’s significance.

Mihonya addressing the court.

Rebels Mihonya and Boji argued that their goal was to defend the Pigmy ethic group’s right to live on their ancestral land. Following the investigation into the case, the Military Court of South Kivu found this group of militiaman exploited the natural resources of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in South Kivu. The exploitive activities were crimes against humanity, including rape, murder, deprivation of liberty, enlisting and using children under 18 in an armed group, and  environmental crimes such as destroying protected areas. In May 2020, the DRC army and Kahuzi-Biega park rangers arrested Mihonya and his accomplice Boji in response to these actions. 

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