Girls as young as 6 raped by DRC troops

2013-05-08 14:41

kalahari.com

New York - Democratic Republic of Congo troops raped at least 97 women and 33 girls, some as young as 6, in the country's volatile east after they fled from advancing M23 rebels in late November, according to a UN report released on Wednesday.

The majority of the rapes by the Congolese army (FARDC) occurred in Minova during a two-day period, and most cases documented by the UN Joint Human Rights Office were committed in the same manner.

"FARDC soldiers entered houses, usually in groups of three to six and, after threatening the inhabitants, looted whatever they could find," the Joint Human Rights Office, which is part of the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, wrote in its report on abuses in eastern DRC between November 15 and December 2.

"One or two of the soldiers would leave with the looted goods and at least one would stand guard as the remaining FARDC soldiers raped women and girls in the house," the report said. "Most victims were raped by more than one soldier."

Twelve senior officers, including the commanders and deputy commanders of the 41st and 391st battalions, have been suspended over the Minova incidents and "were to be put at the disposal of military justice authorities".

The 391st battalion was trained by the United States in 2010 as "a model for future reforms within the Congolese armed forces", according to the US Africa Command website.

The US defence department said last month it condemned the crimes in Minova "irrespective of which unit is accused" and that US training included teaching respect for human rights and prevention of gender-based violence.

Awaiting trial

The report said the United Nations threatened on February 4 to withdraw support for battalions 41 and 391 over the accusations of rights abuses in Minova but decided to continue working with them after the commanders and deputy commanders were suspended.

The UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, known as Monusco, has a mandate to protect civilians and support operations by the Congolese army. There are more than 17 000 UN troops in DRC, a country the size of Western Europe.

Peacekeepers have been stretched thin by the M23 rebellion in the resource-rich eastern DRC. The UN experts said last year the M23 rebels were backed by Rwanda, but Rwanda has repeatedly denied any involvement.

After provincial capital Goma and the town of Sake fell to M23 rebels, the report said thousands of Congolese troops fled in a disorganised manner toward Minova, where they "committed mass rape and other acts of sexual violence, as well as cases of arbitrary execution, mistreatment and systematic looting".

A further 11 Congolese soldiers have been arrested and are awaiting trial in relation to incidents in Minova, although the UN report said only two of them face charges of rape and another two are accused of murder.

The report found that at least two people, including a 14-year-old boy, had been killed by Congolese troops during looting incidents near Minova, while some men were beaten when they tried to stop the troops from raping their wives.

"In one of these cases ... the victim was tied with ropes and beaten by FARDC soldiers while his wife was raped in the adjacent room," the report said.

Gross violations of human rights

The UN report also said that during the M23 occupation of Goma and Sake, the rebels "committed gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law against the civilian population and FARDC who had surrendered."

It documented widespread looting by M23 rebels, at least 11 arbitrary executions and 59 cases of sexual violence. "The victims, mostly wives of FARDC soldiers who had fled during the M23 advance, were raped," the report said.

M23 began taking parts of eastern DRC early last year, accusing the government of failing to honour a 2009 peace deal. That deal ended a previous rebellion and led to the rebels' integration into the army, but they have since deserted.

The UN Security Council also last month established a special intervention force within the peacekeeping mission, which one senior council diplomat has said would be able to conduct "search and destroy" operations against the M23 rebels and other armed groups in the country.

The UN peacekeeping mission is providing support to Congolese military justice officials conducting investigations into the allegations raised in the report. The UN Joint Human Rights Office interviewed more than 350 victims and direct and indirect witnesses for the report.

Read more on:    un  |  m23  |  fardc  |  drc  |  central africa
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose

A device that converts nose breaths into speech will open new doors for people with Parkinson’s or motor neuron disease.

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Don`t judge so quickly or expect too much, be more accepting and understanding and make space for fun and spontaneity. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.