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To the Congolese government:

Enforce compliance with international humanitarian law (the laws of war) among all members of the armed forces, especially regarding the treatment of civilians.

Ensure that the military justice system fully investigates and prosecutes allegations of sexual violence by members of the armed forces. Refer cases to the civilian courts when they are better able to provide competent, independent, and impartial justice.  Prosecutions should not only examine those directly responsible for offenses, but the complicity and command responsibility of superior officers. 

Dismiss perpetrators of sexual violence from the army and vet nominees to posts of command responsibility to ensure that they have not committed violations of international humanitarian law, including crimes of sexual violence.

Provide training to members of the armed forces on human rights law, humanitarian law and on the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Develop a public health policy with regards to sexual violence:

Establish a Cabinet Committee on Sexual Violence, composed of the ministers of Women’s Condition, Human Rights, Health, Defence, and Justice to draft and adopt a national plan to address the issue of sexual violence in a comprehensive manner.

Provide victims of sexual violence with appropriate and timely health services. These services should include appropriate counseling, voluntary testing, and treatment for those affected with HIV/AIDS. Develop clear criteria for the selection of beneficiaries and design professional support services. Cooperate with donors in their efforts to provide coordinated and professional medical and psychological assistance to victims of sexual violence.

Take action to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among victims of sexual violence, and treat those who are infected. In particular ensure that post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission are available to clients in a timely manner. Provide information about HIV/AIDS, the medical services available, and offer voluntary and confidential HIV testing and counseling. Improve treatment of opportunistic infections of HIV/AIDS patients.

Develop a national standard protocol for medical examinations following sexual attack, in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) standard protocols for adults and children. Require hospitals and health centers to follow the defined procedure.

Reform the judiciary to enable fair prosecution of crimes of sexual violence:

Train police, prosecutorial, and judicial staff on gathering and analyzing evidence, including forensic evidence, in cases of sexual violence; ensure personnel have adequate funds to carry out their duties effectively.

Increase the number of personnel among judges, magistrates, and investigating officers (Officiers de police judiciaire), with expertise in investigating and prosecuting crimes of sexual violence. Consider creating special units for women’s rights within the judicial police and the Prosecutors’ offices.

Ensure that all trials are held in accordance with internationally recognized standards of due process. Police, prosecutorial, and judicial personnel must take all necessary measures to assure the security of victims and witnesses, including holding in camera (non-public) proceedings, if necessary, and the provision of police protection.

Ensure that police, prosecutorial, and judicial personnel are trained in working with traumatized victims and witnesses and that they provide timely information about the proceedings. 

Ensure that all minors are tried in Juvenile Justice Chambers (Chambres d’enfance délinquante) and that the chambers give priority to social reintegration programs, rather than prison sentences, for minors who have committed acts of sexual violence.

Make rebuilding and reforming the justice system a priority and ensure that it cooperate with international authorities investigating violations of international humanitarian law. Create mobile investigative teams to facilitate prompt prosecution of crimes.

Create a legal framework that addresses sexual violence in conflict as an international crime:

Urgently adopt the ICC implementing law into Congolese domestic legislation. The law codifies crimes against humanity and war crimes, including sexual crimes, and expands the jurisdiction of the civilian judiciary to include war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by members of the armed forces.

Revise the law on rape in the Congolese Criminal Code or adopt legislation that addresses sexual violence more comprehensively, to include sexual crimes such as penetration with objects and male rape.

Incorporate war crimes and crimes against humanity into the Congolese Criminal Code, including by specifying as war crimes sexual violence and other gender-based crimes.

Revise the Congolese Criminal Code to provide specific protective measures to victims of crimes of sexual violence, such as ensuring confidentiality of victims and witnesses and establishing a system of physical protection before, during and after the trial.

Address sexual violence against men:

Assess the scope of sexual crimes committed against men and boys and devise a strategy to raise awareness of the problem, assist the victims medically and psychologically, and prosecute such crimes.

To armed groups operating in eastern Congo:

Take all necessary steps to ensure that all combatants and others under your command act in full accordance with international humanitarian law. Deliver combatants suspected of crimes, including acts of sexual violence, to Congolese judicial personnel.

To the United Nations, multilateral donor agencies and donor governments:

Provide greatly increased support for medical, psychological, social, and legal support to victims of sexual violence.

Provide assistance to the Congolese government to reform and rebuild the justice system, and to assist women and girls victims of sexual violence in taking their cases to Court.  Insist that members of Congolese civil society participate in making decisions about judicial reform.

Ensure that a vetting process is implemented in all military integration programs supported by donors’ funds.

Ensure that military training supported by the donors includes training in international humanitarian law, including the prohibition of crimes of sexual violence.

Support efforts by the Congolese government to provide medical and psychological assistance to victims of crimes of sexual violence, including to those coping with HIV/AIDS, and to children born of pregnancies that resulted from rape.

To the United Nations Security Council:

Establish a mixed Group of Experts, appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General, to recommend possible justice mechanisms to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed before the Rome Statute of the ICC entered into force in July 2002. 

Ensure that MONUC, under its expanded Chapter VII mandate, does everything in its power to protect civilians against attacks, including sexual assaults.

To the ICC:

Ensure that crimes of sexual violence committed in eastern Congo that constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity are made a priority of investigations and prosecutions. 

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>March 2005