Related Rule
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
In 2010, in the Barnaba Yonga Tshopena case, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Military Garrison Court of Ituri-Bunia convicted a leader of the Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) of several war crimes, including of attacking buildings dedicated to education. The Court stated:
90 … [T]he defendant … is accused of [committing a] war crime by [carrying out] attacks against buildings that do not constitute military objectives, which is a punishable act according to article 8(2)(e)(iv) [of the 1998 ICC Statute] …
91 … [T]he war crime addressed by this article is defined as the act of attacking and destroying buildings of common and/or public use, unless such attacks and destructions are imperatively demanded by military necessities.
92. In view of the [2000 ICC] Elements of Crimes, [this] war crime requires, in addition to a link between the crime and the existence of an armed conflict not of an international character, and the awareness by the perpetrator of the factual circumstances that established the existence of this conflict, that the following five elements be present:
i) an action by the perpetrator consisting of launching or directing an attack;
ii) the object of the attack must be one or more buildings which do not constitute military objectives;
iii) the perpetrator must intend these buildings to be the object of his attack knowing that they are not military objectives;
iv) the conduct of the perpetrator must take place in the context of an armed conflict not of an international character;
v) the perpetrator must be aware of the factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict.
Attack shall be understood here in the sense of article 49(1) of the [1977] Additional Protocol I … , which defines attacks as “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence”.
93 … [I]n the present case, during the attacks launched against Nyankunde and Groupement Musedzo respectively on 5 and 12 September by FRPI Ngiti militiamen, the destructive attacks were deliberately directed against buildings which did not constitute military objectives, in particular buildings dedicated to … education.
96 … [T]hose buildings were damaged or destroyed because they were targeted by the Ngiti combatants …
97 … [S]uch attacks were launched against buildings in both places during a period where there was an armed conflict not of an international character in the territory of Irumu, in Ituri, situated in the Eastern Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
98 … [T]he FRPI leaders who planned and ordered the above-mentioned attacks, as well as all Ngiti militiamen and combatants of the political-military movement who materially committed the attacks, were aware of the existence of an armed conflict of this nature in Ituri and had the intention to direct such attacks against those buildings knowing that they did not constitute military objectives. This proves the existence of the intentional or mental element which constitutes the direct and special dolus according to article 30 of the [1998 ICC] … Statute.
99 … [T]herefore, this Court finds that there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that these attacks which constitute war crimes were intentionally launched against buildings which were not military objectives in Nyankunde and Groupement Musedzo by the FRPI Ngiti combatants with the support, authorization, blessing and/or lack of control by the leaders of this political-military movement called FRPI, including the defendant. 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Military Garrison Court of Ituri-Bunia, Barnaba Yonga Tshopena case, Judgment, 9 July 2010, §§ 90–93 and 96–99.
Regarding the applicable law, the Court stated:
[T]he constitutional provisions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, namely articles 153(4) and 215 of 18 February 2006 [Constitution], authorize both civil and military courts and tribunals to apply duly ratified international agreements and treaties, and give them higher authority than domestic legislation. This constitutional authorization combined with the self-executing nature of the … [1998 ICC] Statute justify the direct application of this treaty by Congolese courts and tribunals. 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Military Garrison Court of Ituri-Bunia, Barnaba Yonga Tshopena case, Judgment, 9 July 2010, § 63.