UN urges DRC to strengthen rule of law

UN urges DRC to strengthen rule of law

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[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] and the UN Security Council [official website] called Wednesday for continued reforms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [JURIST news archive] in order to strengthen the country’s rule of law. President of the Security Council, Gerard Araud, spoke [text] on the DRC’s “peace and security, the forthcoming elections, governance and institution building, and economic development”:

The Security Council stresses the need for urgent progress, with regard to governance and institution building, on judicial reform and support to domestic courts, in order to ensure the rule of law and strengthen the fight against impunity. In this regard, the Council notes the interest of the Congolese authorities for establishing specialized mixed courts to address serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, complemented by their existing cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Earlier, Ban also discussed [text] these four areas for development and emphasized the continued importance of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) [official website]. Both focused on the continued prevalence of sexual assaults in the nation. In response, the DRC called for the UN to withdraw from the nation [AFP report].

The DRC continues to be a center for turmoil in Africa. In March, a military court sentenced 11 army officers [JURIST report] to prison for raping more than 20 women last year. The same court found Lt Col Kibibi Mutware guilty of involvement in mass rapes [JURIST report] that took place on New Year’s Day and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment, dismissing him from the military. Eight of his troops were also given prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years and expelled from the army for their involvement in the attack. The DRC has been called the rape capital of the world [BBC report] by senior UN officials. Members of the UN Security Council expressed “outrage” [statement] last August over a different mass rape in the DRC, calling for justice for the victims [JURIST report]. In December 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged MONUC to stop funding military groups [JURIST report] in the country that are committing human rights abuses. MONUC has been operating in DRC since 1999. The conflict in the DRC has claimed more than four million lives and has been ongoing since 1983. MONUC has overseen elections and continues to provide armed protection for civilians in certain areas, particularly the North and South Kivus provinces.