Press Statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura
For immediate release
(Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 31 March 2015) The Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) have taken an important step forward in the fight against conflict-related sexual violence this week with the signing by commanders of a landmark declaration to combat rape in war.
Military commanders from the FARDC were joined in Kinshasa by key Government leaders including the Ministers of Defense, Justice, Gender, Education and Health as well as the personal representative of DRC President on sexual violence and child recruitment, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, and senior leadership from the UN Mission in DRC, MONUSCO.
The signing of the declaration is an integral step in implementing the national action plan against sexual violence in conflict launched by the armed forces in September 2014. The pledge will be taken by every commander serving in the FARDC and requires military leaders to take a number of important actions, including: respecting human rights and international humanitarian law in relation to sexual violence in conflict; taking action against sexual violence committed by soldiers under their command; ensuring prosecution of alleged perpetrators of sexual violence under their command; facilitating access to areas under their command to military prosecutors and handing over perpetrators within their command that are under investigation, have been indicted or convicted; undertaking disciplinary measures against soldiers suspected of involvement in sexual violence in line with the FARDC military code; reporting to the FARDC leadership any incidents or allegations committed within their area of responsibility; sensitizing soldiers under their command about the zero tolerance policy on sexual violence in conflict; and taking specific measures to ensure protection of victims, witnesses, judicial actors and other stakeholders involved in addressing sexual violence.
In addition to the signing of the declaration, the Minister of Defense also established the Commission that will oversee the implementation of the FARDC’s action plan against sexual violence, and which includes representatives from the military, the Ministries of Justice, Health and Gender, MONUSCO and UN Women.
“This is a day we will all remember as a giant leap forward in the fight against conflict-related sexual violence,” noted SRSG Bangura. “The signing of this declaration by commanders, and the implementation of the FARDC action plan, represent the progress we can make when political will and commitment are coupled with concrete action and support from the international community. The Government and military of DRC should be very proud of this accomplishment.”
For additional information, please contact:
La Neice Collins (Ms.)
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
United Nations New York, NY
Office: +1 212 963 1160
Mobile: +1 917 714 9430