Democratic Republic of the Congo

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2015/203) issued on 23 March 2015.

 

Unprecedented steps were taken by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014, including the prosecution of high-ranking army officers and the payment of reparations to survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. At the same time, the year under review was marked by a resurgence of violence by armed groups, including an increase in rape and forced displacement. From January to September 2014, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recorded 11,769 cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Orientale, Katanga and Maniema; 39 per cent of these cases were considered to be directly related to the dynamics of conflict, perpetrated by armed individuals. As in 2013, North Kivu and Orientale remain the provinces most affected by conflict-related sexual violence, with 42 per cent of all incidents taking place in Orientale. During the same period, the United Nations confirmed 698 cases of conflict-related sexual violence affecting 361 women, 332 girls, 3 men and 2 boys. In 31 per cent of these cases, the perpetrators were members of government security forces, with members of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo) responsible for 201 incidents, the national police implicated in 157 incidents and the national intelligence agency responsible for 2 cases. Investigations into abuses committed by members of the armed forces in the course of military operations against the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain in Masisi territory between February and April 2014 found that rape had been used to punish members of the Hunde population, who were perceived to support the Alliance; at least 20 women were raped by members of regiments 804 and 813.

 

Violations committed by armed groups represent 69 per cent of all confirmed cases of conflict-related sexual violence. The main perpetrator, Mai-Mai Simba/ Morgan, was identified as responsible for 117 rapes. Other groups bearing responsibility for conflict-related sexual violence in areas under their control include the Front de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri, the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, the Raia Mutomboki, Nyatura, the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain, Mai-Mai Simba/Lumumba and other Mai-Mai groups. In Orientale province, Mai-Mai Simba/Morgan continued to use sexual violence to spread fear and also compelled civilians to undertake forced labour in mining areas. In February 2014, reports of rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy targeting women because of their ethnicity surfaced in Katanga province, committed by both Batwa and Baluba armed men to humiliate members of the opposing group. The internally displaced population remains particularly vulnerable to conflict-related sexual violence in the context of such ethnic clashes, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) having documented 2,343 alleged incidents.

 

On 14 July 2014, President Kabila appointed a Personal Representative on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment, Jeanine Mabunda Lioko. From 28 August to 1 September, my Special Representative visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo to attend the launch of the armed forces action plan against sexual violence and on 29 November, a ministerial order was issued to mark the creation of a national commission to oversee the implementation of the plan. In 2014, military tribunals convicted 135 individuals, including 76 members of the armed forces, 41 members of the national police and 18 members of armed groups, of sexual violence crimes. On 5 May, the military court in Goma concluded the trial of the persons accused in the Minova mass rape incident in 2012. Of the 39 members of the armed forces who had been charged with sexual violence, the court convicted 2 of rape. Also during the reporting period, the trials of General Jerome Kakwavu and Lieutenant Colonel Bedi Mobuli Engangela (alias “Colonel 106”) were concluded. General Kakwavu was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for the war crimes of rape, murder and torture and “Colonel 106” was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual slavery. These convictions mark a milestone in efforts to hold high-ranking officers to account. In 2014, 30 victims of the 2003 mass rape in Songo Mboyo, Equateur province, received financial compensation from the Government: 29 victims received the equivalent of US$ 5,000 as compensation for rape and US$ 200 for looted property. The mother of one of the victims who died from complications of rape received the equivalent of US$ 10,000. These compensation payments represent a breakthrough in the administration of justice.

 

Rape remains the predominant form of sexual and gender-based violence reported by survivors who seek services (98 per cent). Medical, psychosocial and legal support is only available in and around provincial capitals. In isolated areas, where the justice system is weak or absent, civilians may resort to informal practices between the families of the perpetrator and the victim to “close” the case, including marriage. The United Nations continues to support the implementation of the national strategy on sexual and gender-based violence. For example, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has prioritized access to psychosocial, economic and educational support for children born as a result of rape and their mothers. UNFPA has supplied treatment centres with essential equipment and post rape kits. UNHCR has expanded to South Kivu its Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) project, under which sustainable cooking fuels and alternative energy are provided, following a successful pilot in North Kivu where it helped to reduce the risk of sexual violence faced by displaced women collecting firewood and water. The Joint Human Rights Office of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) established seven legal clinics, creating links between medical, psychosocial and legal support. As a result of this integrated approach, 60 per cent of clients chose to pursue a legal complaint.

 

Recommendation

I urge the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure full implementation of the armed forces action plan against sexual violence, to systematically bring perpetrators to justice and to deliver reparations to victims, including payment of outstanding compensation awards. I call on donors and the United Nations system to support the Government in its efforts and to pay increased attention to neglected areas, including unregulated mining regions.