News / Africa

UN Urges DRC to End Impunity for Rape

FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Margaret Besheer
— A new U.N. report shows limited progress in fighting sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where too few attackers have been brought to justice.  The cases of sexual violence are highest in the eastern part of the country, where armed groups continue to threaten civilians.

The statistics are alarming: during the four-year period ending in December 2013, there were more than 3,600 victims of sexual violence. Most were women, but there were also nearly 1,000 children and 81 men.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a press conference Wednesday that the victims ranged in age from 2 to 80.

“Based on the information gathered, it appears that armed groups and state agents were each allegedly responsible for about half of all the cases of sexual violence that we recorded," said Pillay.

The report found that sexual violence was often committed during armed attacks aimed at gaining control over territories rich in natural resources.  Villages were a primary target and victims were violated in their homes, the fields where they worked, while going to the market or collecting water.

The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office, which conducted the study, said the incidence of sexual violence is higher in the conflict provinces of North and South Kivu and Orientale.  Nearly half of all victims were from North Kivu.

The study found many obstacles to justice for victims, including a weak national judicial system which lacks the means to conduct investigations, interview and protect victims and witnesses, as well as the low rate of arrests and convictions.  Navi Pillay said improved political will at the highest levels has not sufficiently reduced sexual attacks, and she urged Kinshasa to step up its efforts.

 “I call on the government to prioritize the fight against impunity for crimes of sexual violence, to promptly complete effective and independent investigations, and to prosecute alleged perpetrators, including those suspected of having command responsibility," she said.

Since 2011, military courts have convicted 187 individuals of sexual crimes, but most were low-ranking soldiers, and very few were senior officers or members of armed groups.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid