Mr. Bemba was president of the “Movement for the Liberation of the Congo” (“MLC”) and Commander-in-Chief of its military unit, the Armée de Libération du Congo (“ALC”), in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”). In these roles, Mr. Bemba had effective authority and control over the MLC, as well as the ALC troops. The ICC found Mr. Bemba criminally responsible for rape, both as a war crime and a crime against humanity, committed by his armed forces during the course of the 2002-2003 U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (“CAR”). The ICC held that Mr. Bemba failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or repress the commission of such crimes by his armed forces. This decision is important because it represents the ICC’s first verdict to hold that leaders are accountable for the crimes perpetrated by their subordinates. By employing the doctrine of command responsibility, the ICC’s goal is to prevent leaders from avoiding repercussions for crimes (including sexual crimes) that are committed by the troops under their control.
The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo