UN urges DRC to prosecute perpetrators of mass rapes

UN urges DRC to prosecute perpetrators of mass rapes

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[JURIST] The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] released a report [text, PDF] on Friday accusing soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) of committing mass rape in last summer’s conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) [BBC backgrounder]. The report is the first to officially provide evidence that national forces perpetrated mass rape, as opposed to reports of opposition forces using it as a weapon [JURIST report]. Some soldiers in the FARDC allegedly raped 47 women, including a minor, in villages of Bushani and Kalambahiro. The UN also admitted that they had likely given aid to the attackers shortly before the incident.

In addition, during its investigation missions in Bushani, the team found packagings bearing the references of food rations distributed to “screened” battalions which received support from MONUSCO within the framework of Operation “Hatua Yamana.” In so far as the investigations carried out by the team could establish the presence of the 2331 battalion in particular in the area of the villages attacked between the end of December 2010 and the beginning of January 201129, it cannot be excluded that the alleged perpetrators of the violations were FARDC soldiers who had received support from MONUSCO.

MUNUSCO was chastised, and the report recommended they better monitor the support they give to the FARDC. The report criticizes the Congolese government’s lack of investigation into FARDC as possible perpetrators and pleaded for further judicial action to prosecute rapists. Also, the report emphasized the need to protect survivors of rape from reprisals, which has been a frequent occurrence to silence victims.

In February, a military 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. This has been the only action taken on the issue. DRC has been struggling with a number of human rights issues. Last month, a military court sentenced four policemen to death for killing prominent human rights activist Floribert Chebeya last year. In early October, Human Rights Watch called for the DRC government [JURIST report] to arrest general Bosco Ntaganda pursuant to an outstanding warrant for war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Earlier that same week French authorities arrested a leader [JURIST report] of the FDLR for crimes committed by that group in the DRC. In October, UN peacekeeping forces and the DRC government arrested Mai Mai Cheka [JURIST report] for allegedly leading a rebel group responsible for mass rapes in the country.