EU calls on DRC to stamp out rapes

2010-09-22 21:47

Strasbourg - The European Union (EU) urged the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday to ramp up efforts to protect the population and end the impunity of sexual predators following recent mass rapes.

"The EU is worried about the human rights situation in the DRC," said Belgian European Affairs Minister Olivier Chastel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

"The issue of sexual violence has reached an alarming dimension," Chastel told the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

Authorities must "double their efforts" to protect the population after hundreds of women and children were raped by militia groups in eastern DRC in late July and early August, Chastel said.

He called on Kinshasa to "neutralise the dangerous elements that terrorise" the population in the east, lamenting the "drama of impunity".

"It is not just rebels who commit crimes. We have noted behaviour that is just as reprehensible on the side of security forces," Chastel said.

The Belgian minister said Congolese authorities must "assume their responsibilities" but that the "international community must do as much".

The United Nations has accused the Mai-Mai militia and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, from neighbouring Rwanda, of raping hundreds of women and children in front of their families.

According to local authorities, some 380 women in the Walikale region, west of Nord Kivu, were raped in July.