On 30 April 2018, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo convened a formal meeting with a representative of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to discuss the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s efforts in the fight against sexual violence and child recruitment.
During the meeting, the Democratic Republic of the Congo representative informed the Committee that her country had taken various measures, the cumulative effect of which had resulted in a drastic (85 per cent) drop in reported cases of sexual violence between 2013 and 2016. Her country was also dedicated to fighting against impunity, which included the holding of trials against perpetrators and sentencing those found guilty, including members of the national security forces. Among notable advances, she highlighted the resolution of priority cases — such as the Kavumu, Walikale and Kalehe files — as well as the training of judicial actors including 200 magistrates, police officers and unit commanders on the protection of victims and witnesses.
However, the representative expressed the view that a lot of challenges still remained, stressing in particular the difficulties of coordinating a multiplicity of internal and international partners whose reporting structures lack centralization; obstacles in the execution of decisions ordering reparations for victims of sexual abuses; and the deployment of more women magistrates (23 were deployed in 2016) to further facilitate victims’ access to justice.
Following the formal meeting, the Committee met in closed consultations with Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and a representative of the office of Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, who read out a statement on her behalf.
The Special Representatives reported that, despite some positive developments, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s continued commitment to action plans and the important work of Jeanine Mabunda, Democratic Republic of the Congo Presidential Adviser on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment, acts of conflict‑related sexual violence and grave violations against children had increased in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2017. Characterizing the scale and nature of violations against children as “utterly disturbing”, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict encouraged the Committee to consider the individual and command responsibility of perpetrators of grave child rights violations which were shared with the Committee in her statement, in particular for those violations that had received less attention, such as attacks on schools and hospitals and abductions.
Noting that the year 2017 marked an alarming increase in the number of cases of conflict-related sexual violence, with a return to levels of violence observed prior to 2014, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict urged the Committee to sanction particular commanders of armed groups; recommended that the Committee update the sanctions listing for one individual already designated to reflect his command responsibility for sexual violence; and called upon the Committee to request the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to investigate particular incidents to determine the chain of command and those responsible.
Members of the Committee welcomed both meetings and the opportunity to engage with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the offices of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on these important questions. Delegations further expressed their commitment to continue fighting against the use and recruitment of children and conflict-related sexual violence.