Democratic Republic of the Congo
Practice Relating to Rule 54. Attacks against Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population
Section A. Attacks against objects
In 2009, in the Basele Lutula and Others case, the Military Garrison Court of Kisangani convicted Mai-Mai militia members of various crimes, including destruction of property. The Court stated:
Destruction and damage without malicious intent (article 113 of CPL II [Penal Code])
Pursuant to article 113 of the Penal Code enacted by the ordinance of 28 February 1913: “whoever, even without malicious intent, destroys or damages, without any right or title, … movable or immovable property is liable to punishment of up to seven days’ imprisonment and a fine … ”.
It follows from this definition that this offence requires the combination of the following constitutive elements: protected objects, a material act and a moral element.
Article 113 can be applied with regard to [the following protected objects]:
- fruit and ornamental … [trees]
- wood (chopped) …
- palm tree …
The law does not require that the destroyed or damaged property belongs to another person.
The material act consists of destroying or damaging the above-mentioned objects as specified by law.
The moral element which characterizes this offence … is a simple [and] general one. The perpetrator must act voluntarily but without malicious intent or without title or right.
In the present case, the defendants Kipeleka Nyembo, Okanga Likunde, Osumaka Loleka and Koti Okoke knew that they were breaking the law when they were … cutting down fruit trees which are protected by law, namely mango, palm and avocado trees.