09/10/2009 - 2:49pm
Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Posted by Courtney Smith
Two reports were released by the United Nations on September 7, 2009 regarding human rights abuses, and possible war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These reports, and top human rights officials stress the importance of reforming the DRC's judicial and security mechanisms. The focus of the reports is the period of heavy violence in late 2008 in the country's North and South Kivu provinces.
The first report focuses on the government troops (FARDC) who have been accused of human rights abuses including arbitrary killings, looting, and sexual violence. These ruthless acts were committed against the people that the FARDC was deployed to protect (from the Tutsi rebel group, the National Congress for People's Defense). If the government does not take action to punish those guilty of these acts, it could also be held responsible for human rights violations. The report states that "The judicial response to the violations has, so far, been wholly insufficient".
The second report focuses on the Tutsi rebel group, the National Congress for People's Defense (CNDP). The main human rights abuses being addresses in this report is 67 arbitrary killings conducted by the CNDP, as well as rape, displacement of populations, arbitrary arrests, abductions, and forced recruitment. The individual who led the CNDP during the time period addressed, Laurent Nkunda, was taken into custody in January 2009.
Both reports conclude that the government of the DRC must take action in investigating and punishing individuals guilty of these human rights abuses and war crimes.
The use of rape as a tool of war has been a huge issue in the conflict in the DRC. If you wish to learn more about this subject, there is an excellent documentary called "The Greatest Silence" that details the lives of women who have been raped in the DRC. Click here for the website.
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