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Human Rights Council holds High-Level dialogue on combatting sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Human Rights Council
MORNING

25 March 2014

 Council Decides to Keep the Situation of Cameroon under Review by its Complaints Procedure

The Human Rights Council this morning held a high-level dialogue on combatting sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in opening remarks said that sexual and gender-based violence remained alarmingly prevalent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and numerous reports by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations had highlighted the magnitude and the brutality of rape in this country.  Ms. Pillay was particularly concerned about the absence of reparation schemes for survivors of sexual violence.  Among key questions to address were how to minimize stigma via legislation, policies, programmes and projects; good practices relating to accountability; and how best to help victims gain justice and reparation.
 
Moderating the discussion was Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of the Human Rights Council.  The panellists were Wivine Mumba Matipa, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Genevieve Inagosi, Minister of Gender, Family and Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Jean-Marie Ehouzou, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Zeinab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Abdallah Wafy, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the Rule of Law component of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); Pramila Patten, Vice-President of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; and Julienne Lusenge, Chair of the Board of Directors of the non-governmental organization Feminine Solidarity for Integral Peace and Development.

Ms. Matipa said that over more than 10 years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been torn apart, ravaged and devastated, particularly in its eastern part, by  recurrent armed conflict imposed from outside.  Sexual violence had been used as a veritable weapon of war.  It was important to highlight that rape was not common place, not accepted in the society, which explained the stigma and exclusion of victims.  In a conflict and post-conflict situation, despite undeniable efforts made, there were still several challenges which went beyond the current intervention capacity.

Mr. Ehouzou said this issue was not just confined to the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo because sexual violence was found in several regions of the world, although perhaps exacerbated in conflict situations.  Sexual violence in conflict should not be viewed only in terms of the promotion and protection of human rights, but also as a challenge to peace and security itself.  The Peace and Security Council of the African Union had expressed concern about the deterioration of the situation of women in both conflict and post-conflict situations and saw the high importance of the need to draft follow-up and support strategies for women in conflict situations.

Ms. Bangura said in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the perpetrators of human rights violations had been integrated into the armed forces and this was another important lesson to politicians involved in the negotiation of peace: those who sacrificed accountability during peace-making processes for short–term peace gains also shared in the responsibilities for shaping post-conflict periods. 

Mr. Wafy said the persistence of sexual violence, particularly in conflict zones, remained an issue of concern that must be addressed because of its systematic character and high number of victims.  Over 3,000 victims had been registered between January 2010 and December 2013 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; half of them were in North Kivu province alone.  The national army was the major perpetrator of those crimes. 

Ms. Patten said that the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women had expressed serious concerns about the shocking levels and the nature of the violence and sexual atrocities committed against women, mass rapes, sexual violence, and sexual slavery, and about the failure of the authorities to prioritize the protection of civilians and the denial by key State officials of the extent of the violence committed against women.

Ms. Lusenge said that the re-establishment of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be the solution to violence.  Another aspect was justice.  The care system for victims had not rolled out and was far away from many.  A structure across the national territory was necessary to bring the support structure to women.  There were significant challenges preventing victims from access to justice, such as the costs of conducting legal procedures.  It was important for the community to see the work of the courts for the victims to have their dignity restored.

In the discussion, speakers expressed concern regarding sexual violence in the country, especially its impact on women.  That rape was used as a weapon of war was highly worrisome.  Sexual violence was not violence like any other.  Men were also victims of sexual violence but kept silent about it.  The adoption of the national strategy on combating sexual and gender-based violence was welcomed, but much work remained to be done.  It was important to ensure access to justice for all affected and to ensure protection of victims and witnesses from reprisals whenever they sought access to justice.  The authorities were called upon to step up the fight against impunity, including members of the security and defense forces.  One speaker noted, however, that the fight against impunity sometimes went against the principle of medical confidentiality, which put medical workers and medical institutions at risk, and the international community must ensure the separation of roles and understand that the medical needs of victims came first.
 
Speaking in the discussion were Ethiopia on behalf of the African Group, European Union, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, United States, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, International Committee of the Red Cross,  Angola, Netherlands, United Nations Children’s Fund, Norway, Lithuania, Australia, Switzerland, Portugal and United Kingdom.
 
International Federation for Human Rights, World Young Women Christian Association, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Comite International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine, Action Canada for Population and Development, and Action Internationale pour la Paix et le developpement dans la region des Grands Lacs also spoke.
 
At the beginning of the meeting, Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of the Human Rights Council, said that under the Complaints Procedure, held yesterday afternoon in private, the Human Rights Council had decided to keep the situation of Cameroon under review until its twenty-seventh session. 
 
The Human Rights Council during its noon meeting will hear the reports of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards to strengthen and update international instruments against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their aspects,and the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, followed by a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. 
 
Opening Remarks
 
BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, said that under the Complaints Procedure, the Human Rights Council had decided to keep the situation of Cameroon under review until its twenty-seventh session. 
 
NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that sexual and gender-based violence remained alarmingly prevalent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both in the context of the armed conflict in the eastern provinces and in the rest of the country.  Numerous reports by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations had highlighted the magnitude and the brutality of rape in this country.  In the conflict areas, sexual violence was used as a weapon of war, to intimidate local communities and to punish civilians for real or suspected collaboration with rival forces.  Considerable efforts had been made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, provide redress for survivors and ensure they could access social services.  In 2009, the National Strategy on Combating Sexual and Gender-based Violence had been adopted and the Joint Human Rights Office had been implementing one of the five pillars of this Strategy, namely the fight against impunity.  There remained serious obstacles to accountability for crimes of sexual violence.  Victims were reluctant to come forward for fear of stigmatization, while other obstacles related to structural deficiencies within the judiciary, such as the lack of well-trained judges, corruption and non-execution of judgements.
 
The High Commissioner said she was particularly concerned about the absence of reparation schemes for survivors of sexual violence and had convened in 2010 a high-level panel on remedies and reparations for victims which had recommended the establishment of a reparations fund to meet the needs of survivors.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had set up five pilot projects in South Kivu province in collaboration with local organizations, with the objective of providing assistance to survivors, while informing and encouraging broader reparations programmes.  The international community should learn from those and other projects, as they designed other gender-sensitive reparation programmes targeted to survivors of sexual violence.  In closing, Ms. Pillay said that this high-level panel was an opportunity to identify both lessons learned and the continuing challenges to the struggle against sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and hoped that other Member States that had endured conflicts and post-conflict situations would share their experience in preventing and addressing sexual violence.  Among key questions to address were how to minimize stigma via legislation, policies, programmes and projects; good practices relating to accountability; and how best to help victims gain justice and reparation.
 
Statements by the Panellists
 
WIVINE MUMBA MATIPA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that over more than 10 years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been torn apart, ravaged and devastated, particularly in its eastern part, by recurrent armed conflict imposed from outside.  Sexual violence had been used as a veritable weapon of war.  It was important to highlight that rape was not common place in the country, not accepted in the society, which explained the stigma and exclusion of victims.  Information on the scale of the violence for 2011 to the first half of 2013 showed that more than 37,000 cases of sexual and gender based violence had been received and women represented 98 per cent of the victims.  As for the geographic distribution, North Kivu had the dubious honour of being the part of the country where most cases were reported.  The Government, supported by development partners and civil society organizations, had drafted in 2009 the national strategy for combating sexual and gender-based violence.  Identifying or obtaining and managing data was vital because the propensity to exaggerate the number of victims drove men away from working on this.  On the legal and judicial front, the necessary physical infrastructure was being built.  There was an ongoing process of training of the judiciary and seminars were being held at all levels, including at the rural level.  To bring communities on board and engage them in this fight, appropriate strategies had been developed. In a conflict and post conflict situation, despite undeniable efforts, there were still several challenges which went beyond the current intervention capacity. 
 
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that this was a question that was very important for Africa as a whole.  The issue was not just confined to the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo because sexual violence was found in several regions of the world, including in Africa, although perhaps it was exacerbated in conflict situations.  What was being done in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could perhaps serve as a lesson or best practice for tackling the growing use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.  Sexual violence in conflict should not be viewed only in terms of the promotion and protection of human rights, but also as a challenge to peace and security itself.  The Peace and Security Council of the African Union had expressed concern in the face of the deterioration of the situation of women in both conflict and post-conflict situations.  It also saw high importance of the need to draft follow-up and support strategies for women in conflict situations.  Since 2010 the African Union had had a group of ‘wise people’, elders, which had worked on the issue of reducing the vulnerability of women and children in armed conflict.  The African Union was not acting alone and efforts went hand in hand with those of the international community.  In the wake of this international mobilisation, a comprehensive strategy to combat sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been put together, the fruit of a process of consultation at the provincial, national and international levels.

ZEINAB HAWA BANGURA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was at a turning point in its fight against sexual violence and this panel was an opportunity to assess what else needed to be done to eradicate it.  The international community had denounced the crimes of sexual violence, including mass rapes, but the silence of the Government by contrast had led to the perception amongst Congolese that sexual violence was an abuse committed by outsiders from neighbouring countries.  This might have contributed to the initial lack of response by the Government in the fight against sexual violence in conflict, which clearly demonstrated the importance of governments taking ownership and leadership in addressing the challenges and investing efforts to provide services and fight impunity.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the perpetrators of human rights violations had been integrated into the armed forces and this was another important lesson to politicians involved in the negotiation of peace: those who sacrificed accountability during peace-making processes for short–term peace gains also shared in the responsibilities for shaping post-conflict periods.  The poor capacity of national authorities to ensure accountability was currently one of the biggest impediments and the international community should focus its efforts on improving capacity building support for the judiciary and other government institutions.  The United Nations should also support the Government in the creation of Special Chambers to prosecute grave international crimes, including sexual violence.
 
ABDALLAH WAFY, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the Rule of Law Component of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said that the persistence of sexual violence, particularly in conflict zones, remained an issue of concern that must be addressed because of its systematic character and high number of victims.  Over 3,000 victims had been registered between January 2010 and December 2013 and half of them were in North Kivu province alone.  The national army was the major perpetrator of those crimes.  The progress in combating impunity was slow but steady and the prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence now seemed to be a priority for courts.  Many rapes still remained unpunished for various reasons that made it difficult for victims to obtain justice: disparity between the breadth of the task facing the court system and the available resources; victims were often in remote and inaccessible areas; and stigmatization that victims faced in their communities and families.  The response to the scourge must be multi-sectoral and coordinated and all stakeholders should support the National Strategy, which was the framework for the fight against sexual violence.  The Amnesty Law of 2011 that had excluded sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers, and other most heinous crimes was an important step by the Government.  The focus should be on prosecuting perpetrators, including high-ranked officers; making resources available to courts; establishing a system of free legal assistance to victims so that they had access to justice; and setting up a compensation fund to help victims to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into their communities. 
 
PRAMILA PATTEN, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, said that the Committee had examined the sixth and seventh periodic report of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in July 2013.  The main recommendations addressed the security sector and justice sector reform.  The Committee had expressed serious concerns about the shocking levels and the nature of the violence and sexual atrocities committed against women, mass rapes, sexual violence, and sexual slavery.  It also expressed deep concern about the failure of the authorities to prioritize the protection of civilians and the denial by key State officials of the extent of the violence committed against women; the pervasive impunity and the lack of adequate funding of the military courts; the limited number of prosecutions of members of the armed forces by military courts; and the lack of systematic follow- up by the military prosecutors of investigations made by the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Among others, the Committee recommended: preventing gender-based violence, in particular sexual violence, by State and non-State actors; prioritising the fight against impunity for sexual violence in conflict-affected areas; ensuring access to justice for all women affected by sexual violence during the conflict; providing proper funding to military jurisdictions; ensuring the protection of victims and witnesses from reprisals whenever they sought access to justice; and ensuring the protection of victims and witnesses.
 
JULIENNE LUSENGE, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Non-governmental Organization Feminine Solidarity for Integral Peace and Development, said that violence against women continued and was not going away.  The way of combatting violence was peace, the re-establishment of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be the solution to the violence.  Another aspect was justice, in order to make perpetrators accountable.  Culture was not behind the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the impact of war.  The care system for victims had not rolled out and was far away from many victims, a structure across the national territory was necessary to bring the support structure to women, it was not enough to provide these services in the cities.  Roads and travel were dangerous, would victims face the danger of being assaulted in order to testify in the closest city or on the way back?  Sexual violence was used to intimidate.  It was one of the worst forms of brutality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  There were many awareness raising campaigns set up by civil society organizations, work had been done with the youth and community leaders, the judiciary was made aware about the law, victims and survivors were made aware of what legislation established.  There were significant challenges preventing victims from access to justice, such as the costs of conducting legal procedures.  Travelling courts and sufficient resources were necessary, transport and secure access to courts was also necessary.  It was important for the community to see the work of the courts for the victims to have their dignity restored.
 
Discussion
 
Belgium welcomed the holding of this panel which made it possible to learn lessons from the past and identify future challenges.  Belgium welcomed the adoption of the national strategy on combating sexual and gender-based violence, but noted that much work remained to be done.  The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was called upon to redouble its efforts with the international community to stop impunity.  Montenegro said this was an important topic for the Council and expressed concern regarding sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially its impact on women.  That rape was used as a weapon of war had highly worrisome.  The international community had an important role to play in combating sexual and gender-based violence.  Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, recognised that women and children accounted for the vast majority of those adversely affected by the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that women and children required special protection.  The African Group reaffirmed its commitment to combat impunity and bring accountability for human rights violations.  European Union said that it had a long-standing partnership with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It was saddened by the scale and intensity of sexual violence.  The European Union had repeatedly asked the authorities to address impunity as a matter of priority and to bring perpetrators of sexual violence to justice.  Ireland said it remained deeply concerned by reported acts of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and stressed the importance of continued constructive and participatory engagement by all parties.  Ireland supported the Special Envoy’s commitment to a bottom-up approach to issues surrounding sexual and gender-based violence.
 
United States said that after decades of conflict, women, girls and boys continued to suffer unspeakable brutality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Vulnerable individuals were treated as pawns in the various conflicts affecting the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Every country could do more to combat sexual and gender-based violence.  Ongoing efforts to ensure that those responsible were held accountable were welcomed.  France remained concerned by the ongoing sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the east of the country, and about the ongoing impunity of the perpetrators.  Sexual violence was not violence like any other.  France called on the authorities to step up the fight against impunity, including members of the security and defence forces.  Germany applauded the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s willingness to address the issue, including passing a law on sexual violence.  The situation continued nonetheless to be dire and the incidents of rape were not declining.  The establishment of a functional penal and judicial system was vital.  Czech Republic said access to health facilities was difficult for victims and most facilities lacked the human and financial resources.  It was important to ensure access to justice for all affected and to ensure the protection of victims and witnesses from reprisals whenever they sought access to justice.  Sovereign Military Order of Malta underscored the scale of the problem and highlighted the urgent need to find a solution to this oft forgotten tragedy.  Men were also victims of sexual violence but kept silent about it.  Protection was also the mandate of international and humanitarian organizations and responsibility was also borne by civil society organizations and local communities.  Canada said that it was determined to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, wherever they occurred.  The scale and prevalence of violence against women, particularly sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was shocking.  Canada was facilitating access to legal support and training.
 
Brazil highlighted the importance of projects aimed at preventing violence against women, particularly sexual violence, for the achievement of peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and said that was why it had provided $ 1 million to fund those initiatives.  International Federation for Human Rights noted the significant obstacles, including monetary, for victims of sexual violence to obtain justice and stressed that the right to justice and compensation must not be conditioned to the political situation in the country.  World Young Women Christian Association said that significant work needed to be done at the community level to ensure that women and girls victims of sexual violence were respected, just like victims of torture.  Médecins sans Frontières said that the fight against impunity sometimes went against the principle of medical confidentiality, which put medical workers and medical institutions at risk; the international community must ensure the separation of roles and understand that medical needs of victims came first.
 
Spain said the Democratic Republic of the Congo needed to remove from its legislation the provisions that were grounds for discrimination against women, and noted that the goals of the fight against impunity must be redress and compensation for the victims.  Mexico said that armed conflicts had specific impacts on women and girls and that was why it was important to mainstream gender perspectives in initiatives related to justice and accountability.  International Committee of the Red Cross said that priority for victims was access to medical and psychological assistance and that was why the community listening centres were important, also in order to correct preconceived assumptions about sexual violence and victims.  Angola welcomed the efforts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to combat sexual violence and urged the Government to apply a zero-tolerance policy to perpetrators of this crime.  The scale of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was shocking, said the Netherlands, and quoted a figure of 40 per cent of women, including minors, being direct or indirect victims of gender-based violence.  The Netherlands asked what steps the Government was taking to combat the crimes of sexual violence, particularly by the police and army.  United Nations Children’s Fund noted the significant decline in funding for appropriate medical care to survivors of gender-based violence since the end 2012, and said that in the light of challenges such as insecurity or impunity, it was important to continue multi-sectoral assistance for survivors.  Norway said that in order to combat sexual violence, it was important to address its root causes which were unequal power relations and discrimination against women.  Lithuania was concerned about pervasive impunity, particularly of military personnel and officers, and the lack of resources of military courts.
 
Australia remained alarmed by the scale of sexual and gender based violence committed by foreign and Congolese armed groups, the defense security forces, and civilians, but welcomed the improvements in security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission (MONUSCO) in protecting civilians and creating space for reform processes.  Switzerland thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for organising this panel and was particularly concerned by sexual violence against women and men.  Sexual violations and violence against women and human rights defenders remained prevalent in many contexts; female human right defenders were particularly vulnerable and it was important to provide protection for them to be able to carry out their work.  Portugal said that sexual violence in conflict should be eradicated on a world-wide scale, and recognised the work of the Special Representative and acknowledged her efforts to promote national ownership regarding measures to this end.  Portugal was pleased by the joint-communique signed in Kinshasa between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Nations, but concerns remained about the need to fight impunity and the need for a reparation fund and services for victims. United Kingdom welcomed the presentations of the Special Representative and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The United Kingdom was supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other international initiatives to combat sexual violence. 
 
International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights said that the report on sexual violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recognised that control over mineral resources remained one of the main causes of violence and human rights violations, and expressed concern about the activities of Ugandan and Rwandan armed groups with impunity.  Action Canada for Population and Development welcomed United Nations resolutions concerning the problem of sexual violence in armed conflict, and urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to implement its Universal Periodic Review recommendations, as well as take steps to support victims.  Action Internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la region des grands lacs said that the framework agreement among the United Nations, the African Union and the Great Lakes international conference had been adopted without any consultation within the Democratic Republic of the Congo or consultation with the authorities, and expressed concern about the responsibility of Rwanda and Uganda in the instrumentalisation of armed groups and the destabilisation of the country.
 
Concluding Remarks
 
WIVINE MUMBA MATIPA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in concluding remarks responded to a question on what reforms were underway of the justice system.  A strategy for the reform of the sector had been rolled out in 2009 which had a related action plan based on two different approaches and the European Union was supporting this process.  It was highlighted that one of the main thrusts was access to justice.  On priorities, the problems of infrastructure and of capacity building, and the training and education of all stakeholders in this process clearly had to be dealt with.  It was important to remind those that raised the Amnesty Law and the Compensation Fund for Victims that the right of victims to compensation had been preserved.  Concerning a question on measures envisaged or taken to strengthen capacities for the judiciary, an initial measure was taken in 2010 to grow the number of magistrates in the country.  Regarding the protection of women, victims and witnesses, a special unit existed, although indeed it would be better to have a law on witness protection and this was being chewed over.  A human rights module was included in every training programme of the armed forces in the country.  On involving men and boys in finding a solution to the problem, this was delivered by education.   
 
GENEVIEVE INAGOSI, Minister of Gender, Family and Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that sexual violence was a source of great concern for the Government and was a personal source of concern for the President.  It was important to be seen as the Government’s responsibility to respond, before the international community.  The war was the main cause but there were other root causes to be borne in mind and there were legal reforms underway, particularly concerning women.  There was an ongoing reform to the Family Code to strike out any discriminatory aspects.  It was encouraging to read of progress made by the Government and that this was recognized by the panellists.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was determined to take all steps to eradicate sexual violence.  Statistics served no purpose if they were left to gather dust and had to be used to guide plans and interventions.  Civil society was a privileged partner of the Government and was responsible for activities at the grass-roots level, and could reach areas which the Government could not.

ABDALLAH WAFY, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the Rule of Law component of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), responded to statements about agreements with armed groups and impunity.  Mr. Wafy clarified that there had been talks with the M23 and informed that no element would be integrated into the army and the police; a plan for the Congolese soldiers had been established.  The amnesty law excluded all those responsible for violations, including sexual violence.  Mr. Wafy also thanked the High Commissioner for convening this panel, which would make a positive contribution to the work of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and welcomed the synergy with the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
 
ZAINAB HAWA BANGURA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, thanked the Office of the High Commissioner and the delegates for their interest and participation.  Ms. Bangura outlined a number of actions taken by different governmental bodies, including the deployment of a team of experts to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work along the lines of the joint communiqué.  A legal framework was necessary to ensure accountability for instances of sexual violence, and was lacking in many countries.  Special police forces, adequate provisions for victims, local ownerships involving a wide range of traditional actors, and a system of reparations for victims were all needed.  Ms. Bangura also thanked the Netherlands for its support and said that the unit tasked with providing assistance to victims had been restructured.  Concerning the mainstreaming of training on human rights for regional officers, Ms. Bangura emphasised the need of pre-deployment training for peacekeeping forces and noted that relevant work was underway with the relevant United Nations bodies.
 
JULIENNE LUSENGE, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Non-Governmental Organization Feminine Solidarity for Integral Peace and Development, in concluding remarks said that what had to be done to help victims was to bring holistic services, medical, judicial, legal, social and economic, to victims, and see centres which could care for survivors in the various regions.  Women could not continue to pay for the cost of justice because they had been raped.  The struggle against impunity required imprisoning perpetrators.  Today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s prisons were porous, destroyed, and prisoners escaped.  Analyses on cultures of discrimination were required and work with Chiefs also had to be carried out.
 
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