DRC Sexual Violence Haunts Amnesty

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LONDON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Amnesty International said the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo needs to do more to bring perpetrators of sexual violence to justice.

Veronique Aubert, deputy director of African affairs at Amnesty International, said in a statement that only a handful of charges were brought against perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity despite widespread claims of abuse in the country.

“All suspected perpetrators of such crimes under international law must be prosecuted according to international fair-trial standards without the use of the death penalty,” she added.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a July report that reports of sexual violence in the DRC are widespread. An investigation by the United Nations there determined that more than 45 women were victims of sexual violence, including rape, in the DRC villages in North Kivu on New Year’s Eve.

The U.N. report noted it couldn’t pinpoint who was behind the sexual violence though members of the Congolese armed forces were allegedly behind some attacks.

Amnesty International noted the Congolese government is to debate a law for a specialized criminal court to investigate abuses in the coming weeks.

“This initiative is a very positive step toward tackling impunity but much more needs to happen in order to enable the ordinary courts to complement this new mechanism,” Aubert said.

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