UN sets DRC deadline to act against rape
08 March 2013, 11:31
New York -The United Nations has given the Democratic Republic
of Congo a deadline in March to act against two army battalions accused of
carrying out 126 rapes in an eastern town, a UN official said on Thursday.
The UN mission in DRC will stop working with the two
battalions if action is not taken, the official told reporters. The DRC army
relies heavily on the UN peacekeepers for support in the battle with armed groups
in the strife-torn east.
The 126 rapes were carried out in the North Kivu province
town of Minova as army troops fled an assault by M23 rebels in November.
The troops moved to Minova after being forced out of the
provincial capital of Goma on November 20. "Over the next 10 days, they
went on a raping and looting rampage in Minova and neighboring
communities," according to Human Rights Watch.
"We have investigated, we have identified a number of
cases and we demand the Congolese authorities take legal action against those
people," the UN official said, speaking to reporters on condition of
The UN official said that "notice" was given to
the DRC government in early February that it had to take action against the two
battalions which had been in Minova. "The deadline now is getting very
near," the official said.
The UN said in December that its investigators had evidence
of at least 126 rapes and that two soldiers had been arrested for rape and
seven for looting around Minova. But rights groups say no officer has been
arrested and none of the charges have been followed up.
Human Rights Watch said in a report in February that several
women told their investigators that "soldiers in official army uniform
forced their way into the women's homes at night, pointed guns at them, and
"The soldiers then threatened to kill the women if they
refused to have sex with the soldiers or if they screamed for help. Some of the
victims were gang raped in front of their husbands and children by several
soldiers operating together," said the report.
The notoriously feeble DRC is much criticised for its
brutality against civilians and corruption. The UN officials said it
"melted away" during the M23 advance last year.