UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri [official profile] said Wednesday that respecting human rights [press release] is essential to achieve stabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [UN materials; BBC backgrounder]. During her recent trip, Pansieri witnessed first-hand the siege of the city Goma, including widespread rape by military and civilian offenders with impunity. In other parts of the country, she noted that the conflict threatened everyday life. As a result of this seven-day evaluation, Pansieri encouraged the UN to extend its stabilization mission in the country and implored the international community to continue its support of the rule of law there. She also welcomed recent efforts to reform the penal system and protect rights defenders.
Violence has continued in the DRC with government and rebel forces accused of rights abues. In July Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that the rebel group 23 March Movement (M23) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] is receiving assistance from Rwanda [JURIST report] despite continued human rights abuses by the M23, including rape, executions and forced recruitment of young boys. In May a UN report found that DRC troops committed rape and murder [JURIST report] as they retreated from an advance by M23 rebels last November. In February HRW reported that during the siege of Goma, M23 forces summarily executed 24 individuals [JURIST report], 21 of whom were civilians, and raped 36 women, including a 10-year-old girl. In November the UN condemned [JURIST report] M23 guerrilla attacks on the DRC and called for an immediate end to all support for the group. Last year a leaked UN report [JURIST report] revealed that Rwanda had been supporting M23 and other groups guilty of human rights violations.