DRC praised for rape investigation

March 30, 2011 at 1:13 PM

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 30 (UPI) -- Though the United Nations hails a move in the Democratic Republic of Congo to prosecute military officials for rape, the victims need help, an envoy said.

DRC officials launched judicial proceedings against three military officers accused of rape. One, Gen. Jerome Kakwavu, is accused of raping young girls several years ago when he was the leader of a Congolese militant group.

Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, said the DRC is sending a strong message that nobody in the country is above the law.

"It is vital that survivors receive assistance, in particular medical interventions," she added in a statement. "The aim is not only to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice, but also to ensure that victims obtain justice and care."

A military court in the DRC found 11 members of the Congolese military guilty of rape, pillaging and other acts of violence earlier this month. Their case stems from the rape of 24 women in 2009.

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in the DRC said it was stepping up its presence in the area. At least 8,000 rapes were reported by humanitarian agencies in the DRC in 2010.

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