US urges Angola, DRC to probe rapes

2010-10-29 08:04

Washington - The United States called on Thursday on Angola to investigate alleged rapes of women deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying both countries had a duty to protect women and children.

A UN report earlier this year said that hundreds of women and girls have been raped as Angolan authorities expel migrants into its neighbour.

"We encourage Angolan officials to investigate these allegations and determine who perpetrated the alleged human rights violations against Congolese women before their deportation," State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said.

Angola in 2004 launched a campaign that has expelled more than 400 000 illegal immigrants, mostly Congolese, from its mining regions, leading Kinshasa to undertake similar expulsions against Angolans.

The two nations reached an agreement last year to stop the expulsions, although the March report by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said deportations have continued.

"We encourage Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo to use bilateral mechanisms set up last year to address migration issues along their shared borders, but most importantly to protect both of their populations, particularly women and children," Crowley told reporters.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has put a priority on curbing sexual violence around the world, last year meeting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo with women who have been raped.

The United States and Angola, a major oil producer, in July inaugurated a "strategic dialogue" to broaden warming relations which were tense during the Cold War.