In Congo’s two decades of war with the M23 rebels, civilians have been the greatest victims. The most prevalent crime has been rape-and-pillage, a practice that often eliminates whole villages and towns. The practice is also used by the Congolese Army 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. This includes Congolese Army Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who continues to carry out joint exercises in eastern Congo, apparently without fear of arrest by United Nations peacekeepers.