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Cablegate: Landmark Sexual Violence Law Adopted by National

VZCZCXRO2211
PP RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR
DE RUEHKI #1098/01 1881515
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071515Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4336
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001098

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KCRM KWMN CG
SUBJECT: LANDMARK SEXUAL VIOLENCE LAW ADOPTED BY NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY


1. (U) Summary: The National Assembly of the DRC passed
landmark sexual and gender-based violence legislation on June
22. The legislation, which was drafted by a coalition of
human rights groups, women's rights groups, and lawyers with
USG assistance, contains unprecedented measures against
trafficking and prostitution of women and children, sexual
slavery, forced marriage, and criminalizes rape. End summary.

2. (U) A coalition of women's rights groups, human rights
activists, and lawyers convened and supported by the
international NGO Global Rights (Note: The Global Rights
program is designed, managed, and funded by USAID. End note)
drafted and pushed the legislation, which languished on the
Transitional Government agenda for more than a year. The
resultant law came in response to epidemic levels of rape and
sexual servitude perpetrated by DRC armed groups against
noncombatants. Sexual violence has been particularly
prevalent in the eastern provinces of South Kivu, Maniema,
North Kivu, and Katanga where, according to a recent report,
over 40,000 cases of rape were documented between 1998 and
2005. (Note: This number severely understates the scope of
the problem, as the societal stigma against rape in DRC
prevents many, if not most, reports of the crime. End note.)

Penalties for Rape
------------------
3. (U) The new law redefines rape to include any forced
penetration, including with foreign objects, by any person of
any age. It also includes anyone who forces a third party to
rape a woman (or man, or child). The newly introduced
penalty is 5-20 years incarceration and not less than a
100,000 Congolese franc fine (about 225 USD). Rape leading
to death produces an automatic life sentence. These
penalties are doubled if the person committing the rape meets
any of the following criteria -- is related to the victim, is
in a position of authority, is the victim's teacher or
servant, is a public official or medical personnel, is aided
by others (i.e. gang rape), is holding the victim captive at
the time of the rape, commits the rape in public, severely
harms the victim physically or psychologically, or rapes a
person with a disability.

4. (U) Sexual mutilation (Note: Often practiced by
militia. End note) of victims is specifically proscribed as
well and earns the perpetrator 2-5 years in prison (if
causing death 10-20 years in prison) and a 200,000 Congolese
franc fine (about 450 USD). Also, if the perpetrator
deliberately infects the victim with an incurable sexually
transmitted disease, the punishment is 5-15 years and a
200,000 Congolese franc fine. Finally, forced pregnancy,
with a punishment of 5 years imprisonment, and forced
sterilization, with a punishment of 5-15 years imprisonment,
address variations of the sexual violence often inflicted
upon Congolese women.

Trafficking, Prostitution, and Other Crimes
-------------------------------------------
5. (U) The law also addresses related crimes of sexual
violence. Pimping, or procuring prostitutes for others, is
punishable by 3 months to 5 years of imprisonment and a
50,000 to 100,000 Congolese franc fine (110-225 USD) when the
prostitute is 18 or older, and includes running a house of
prostitution. The penalty for prostituting children is 5-20
years incarceration and a 200,000 Congolese franc fine and
specifically includes transferring (trafficking) children
with the intent of sexual exploitation. Child pornography is
also prohibited; punishment is 3 months to 5 years
imprisonment and 150,000 Congolese franc fine (about 325 USD).

6. (U) In addition to rape and prostitution, sexual
harassment and forced marriage are proscribed by the new law.
Sexual harassment, characterized as an abuse of authority
with a view to seeking sexual favors, is punishable by 1-12
months in prison or a fine of 50,000 Congolese francs.
Forced marriage, by a person in a position of parental
authority, carries a 1-12 month sentence and 100,000
Congolese franc fine. The penalties are doubled when the
person being forced to marry is under 18 years of age.

An End to Impunity
------------------
7. (U) Given that the majority of perpetrators of sexual
violence in the DRC in recent years have been military or
official personnel, the law specifically states that "the

KINSHASA 00001098 002 OF 002


official status of the perpetrator of sexual violence does
not exonerate him from criminal responsibility or constitute
a cause for reduction of the penalty." Similarly, the next
article adds that "the fact that person who commits an act of
sexual violence does so in the execution of a civil or
military order does not exonerate him from criminal
responsibility."

Procedural Improvements to Aid Victims
--------------------------------------
8. (U) Victims' rights are also addressed in the new law.
The police officer receiving the sexual violence complaint
has 24 hours to report it to judicial authorities, and a
limit of one month is imposed for the length of the inquest
and judgment in sexual violence cases. The law requires the
victim be provided the assistance of council as well any
medical or psychological help needed. The victim's security
and physical and psychological well-being must be protected,
and confidentiality must be maintained through the use of
close-circuit cameras and pseudonyms when necessary.

9. (U) Regarding measures of proof, the law also forbids
future or past sexual activities of the victim or witnesses
from being used as evidence or to discredit them.
Furthermore, consent is specifically defined -- it cannot be
given by inference from the words or actions of the victim
unable to give proper consent, nor can it be inference by
silence or lack of resistance, nor can it be considered
freely given when force, threat, or constraint has been used.

10. (U) Comment: This ambitious law is the result of
ground-breaking lobby efforts spearheaded by USAID and its
partners and brings DRC's prohibitions against sexual
violence in line with Western progressive legal systems and
represents the first specific legislation against child and
adult trafficking and prostitution. It also has a series of
"unfunded mandates," such as psychological counseling, victim
anonymity, and prompt court hearings for which, even if funds
were provided, the infrastructure simply does not exist.
Nevertheless, the establishment of severe punishments for the
most commonly committed crime against women in the DRC, rape,
allows the fledgling justice sector to fight against impunity
on its most abused front.
MEECE

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