Armed groups continued to use sexual violence as a tactic to assert control over natural resources in North Kivu. A split in the leadership of Nduma défense du Congo- Rénové created two rival factions, triggering clashes across Walikale and Masisi territories, which fuelled sexual violence in areas of artisanal gold mining. The perpetration of sexual violence by Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda was widespread, reflecting persistent patterns of attacks against women and girls collecting firewood in Virunga National Park. In the mining areas of North Kivu, Mai-Mai forces patriotiques populaires-armée du peuple, which were formerly part of Mai-Mai Mazembe, were implicated in patterns of sexual slavery. In South Kivu, Mai-Mai and other militias carried out retaliatory attacks against civilians, resulting in mass displacement and exposing women and girls to sexual violence. There were also renewed incursions by Mai-Mai Raia Mutomboki factions into mining areas during the reporting period. In response, the second phase of the Shabunda action plan, designed to curb conflict-related sexual violence by bringing together the civilian and military components of MONUSCO, national authorities and non-governmental organizations, was launched. In Ituri, assailants based in Djugu, in particular elements of Coopérative pour le développement du Congo (CODECO), committed acts of sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery, against multiple women and one man. In Tanganyika, at least 61 cases of sexual violence were attributed to various Twa militias, and 11 cases of rape, gang rape and sexual slavery were attributed to members of Mai-Mai Apa Na Pale.
Important progress was made in the fight against impunity. In November, former armed group commanders Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka and Serafin Lionso were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes, including rape and sexual slavery, committed between 2010 and 2017 in North Kivu. The trial of former Forces de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri leader Justin Banaloki, alias “Cobra Matata”, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual violence, is ongoing in Kinshasa. Following mobile court hearings held in South Kivu, Takungomo Mukambilwa, alias “Le Pouce”, senior leader of the armed group Mai-Mai Raia Mutomboki Charlequin, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual slavery. However, the arrest warrants against Guidon Shimiray Mwissa (Nduma défense du Congo-Rénové) and “General” Janvier Karairi Bwingo (Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain-Janvier), issued in 2019 and 2013 respectively, remain unexecuted. In 2020, mobile military courts enabled the prosecution and conviction of State actors, including 103 members of the national armed forces and 28 members of the national police; 8 members of non-State armed groups were also convicted. However, court- ordered reparations have yet to be paid. In the Kasais, judicial investigations into serious violations attributed to the armed forces between 2016 and 2019 confirmed the widespread use of sexual violence by the military during operations carried out in communities perceived to be supporting Kamuina Nsapu militias. The United Nations continued to assist survivors, including through remote means: for example, it launched a helpline for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in August. Collaboration continued between the United Nations and the Government. In that context, a workshop was convened by the Special Adviser to the President on Youth and Violence against Women, with the support of MONUSCO, resulting in the endorsement of a road map aimed at implementing the 2019 addendum to the 2013 joint communiqué on addressing sexual violence in conflict.