EP: Sexual violence in Congo is "the worst in the world"

European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the international community to take action against the widespread sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which it describes as "the worst in the world".

According to the resolution, the war and unrest in eastern DRC "has resulted in sexual violence against women on a widespread and alarming scale committed by armed rebel groups, as well as by government, army and police forces". Women are being "systematically attacked on an unprecedented scale". War atrocities are "structured around rape, gang rape, sexual slavery and murder". This not only leads to "the physical and psychological destruction of women" but seems to be used "as a way of humiliating women in front of their families and communities and thus destroying the integrity, morale and cohesion of those communities". The end result is to "destroy all social networks and represent a genuine national threat".

Perpetrators can be prosecuted under national and international law Parliament’s resolution "condemns the use of rape as a weapon of war and recalls that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over such acts", which are classified under the ICC’s statute as crimes against humanity and war crimes. The government of DRC also has a clear responsibility "to put an end to impunity and to implement the new law adopted by its Parliament outlawing sexual violence, which lays down stiffer penalties for perpetrators". Parliament therefore urges that "the perpetrators of sexual violence against women be reported, identified, prosecuted and punished, in accordance with national and international criminal law".

Support needed from global community The wider international community is called upon "to take all necessary steps to support the relevant national authorities in investigating these acts and prosecuting those responsible", while the EU is urged "to allocate substantial funds to providing medical, legal and social support for victims of sexual abuse and empowering women and girls as a way of preventing further sexual abuse".

The EU and the UN are asked "formally to recognise rape, forced impregnation, sexual slavery and any other forms of sexual violence as crimes against humanity, serious war crimes and a form of torture, whether or not they are carried out in a systematic manner". All UN member states that send personnel on the MONUC peacekeeping mission are urged "to bring individuals who have committed sexual abuse to court as quickly as possible". Lastly, the DRC government and the UN mission (MONUC) are asked to guarantee security for members of humanitarian organisations. Click here to read the full text of the resolution.

Picture (from http://www.consilium.europa.eu/cms3...):EU High Representative Javier Solana meets local population in the refugee camps in Bunia - courtesy of ECPAD

Nasi Partnerzy Amani Kibera Instytut Globalnej Odpowiedzialności Counter Balance Polska Akcja Humanitarna Grupa Zagranica Bankwatch Network Polska Zielona Sieć