Democratic Republic of Congo: U.N Releases Report on War Rapes, Special Representative Shares Strategies to Address Sexual Violence
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:30 AM

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report on wartime rapes in Congo. The report was released on October 1, 2010, and covers a ten year period from 1993 – 2003, which is described as “one of the most tragic chapters in the recent history of the DRC.”  The extensive report finds that non-combatant civilian populations, mainly women and children, experienced widespread violence at the hands of the Congolese armed forces and foreign military. The violence has largely gone unpunished. The report assesses Congo’s justice system and proposes transitional justice mechanisms to address Congo’s past crimes and the culture of impunity.


To access the report, please click here.


Just before the release of the report, Margot Wallstrom, chairperson for the U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Justine Bihamba, an anti-rape activist and founder of Congo-based coalition Synergy of Women for the Victims of Sexual Violence, shared strategies to address the wartime rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Wallstrom, who assumed her position in June, traveled to Congo on September 28 for a week to visit sites of mass rapes, and meet government officials, rape survivors, and non-governmental organizations. Wallstrom said that catching and punishing high profile perpetrators of sexual violence would send a strong message in Congo.


Bihamba took a different approach that focused on preventing the causes of war rape. According to Women’s eNews, Bihamba pointed to rebel activity as the cause for violence, saying that rebel activity exists in neighboring Rwanda, and that the Congolese army has also integrated rebel leaders. She wanted the United States to pressure Rwanda to solve its rebel activity.


On August 21, rebel soldiers gang-raped more than five hundred women in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, in close proximity to a U.N. peacekeeper base. Wallstrom acknowledged criticisms that her office was one of the last to learn of the mass rapes, saying they were still not fully in the loop.



Compiled from: DR Congo: UN releases most extensive report to date on war massacres, rapes, UN News Centre, (1 October 2010); Amy Lieberman, U.N Seeks Congo Rapists; Congolese Urges War's End, Women's eNews, (30 September 2010);