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Cablegate: Un Rapporteur Calls Kivu Sexual Violence Worst

VZCZCXRO4693
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0948 2201257
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081257Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6675
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000948

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KWMN KPKO PGOV CG
SUBJECT: UN RAPPORTEUR CALLS KIVU SEXUAL VIOLENCE WORST
CRISIS SHE HAS EVER SEEN

REF: KINSHASA 896

1. (U) Yakin Erturk, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human
Rights Council on Violence against Women, characterized the
situation in the Kivus as "the worst crisis I have
encountered so far" during a press conference in Kinshasa
July 27. Erturk visited the DRC from July 16-27 for meetings
in Kinshasa, Ituri District, and South Kivu and Equateur
provinces. She will submit a full report to the UN Human
Rights Council in Geneva upon her return.

2. (U) Erturk said that South Kivu NGOs recorded 4500 sexual
violence cases in the first six months of 2007. Most were
perpetrated by the FDLR (reftel). She said the atrocities
are "an unimaginable brutality that goes far beyond rape."
She noted that the perpetrators aimed at complete physical
and psychological destruction of women. She called for the
international community to "exercise its responsibility" to
protect these women since the GDRC has proven unable to.

3. (U) Erturk noted that The Congolese national army (FARDC)
and police (PNC) are also perpetrators of sexual violence.
She said 20 percent of all sexual violence cases in South
Kivu and Ituri are attributable to State security forces.
She said FARDC units are deliberately targeting civilians for
pillage, gang rape, and murder for suspected support of
militia groups. These acts constitute war crimes, she
argued, and in some cases, crimes against humanity. She said
the GDRC must bring perpetrators to justice in accordance
with international law.

4. (U) Erturk also found that PNC and FARDC soldiers in
Equateur province frequently respond to civilian unrest with
organized reprisals involving indiscriminate pillage,
torture, and mass rape. She cited three mass rape cases in
the province in the last nine months and said not one officer
had been charged or arrested in the violence.

5. (U) "Perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity, especially
if they wear the State's uniform," said Erturk. She said
senior army and police officers shield the men under their
command from prosecution and deliberately obstruct
investigations. She added that prisoners have little
difficulty escaping from the DRC's prisons, sometimes with
the complicity of those in charge. For example, all seven
men convicted of the 2003 rape of more than 200 women and
girls in Songo Mboyo, Equateur have since escaped from prison
"under dubious circumstances."

6. (U) Erturk had advice for the GDRC in addressing the
problem of sexual violence. The National Assembly could
undertake basic legal reforms, such as changing the Family
Code. This code, she said, effectively declares women to be
minors under their husband's guardianship. The National
Assembly has not yet enacted a Gender Parity Law consistent
with the new Constitution. Also, despite court orders, the
government has not yet paid reparations to a single victim
who has suffered sexual violence by State agents.

7. (U) Comment: Erturk's visit shines a spotlight on the
epidemic of sexual violence in the DRC. This epidemic,
however, has been previously highlighted by national and
international NGOs with little result. With barely
functioning justice systems, poorly trained and equipped
police and security forces, or simply stated, little
government authority or control yet existing in eastern DRC,
there is no basis for confidence that the massive abuses of
women will be corrected soon. As well, it is not at all
clear that many local and national leaders necessarily place
the issue of sexual violence as one of their highest
priorities. There is an ongoing tragedy especially targeting
Congo's female citizens, particularly acute in eastern DRC
but seen elsewhere in the country as well, with few concrete
ideas or initiatives yet put forward to put an end to this
situation soon. End comment.
MEECE

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