KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- With a member of a militia tied to mass rapes running for office, Human Rights Watch said it was time for Congolese authorities to get serious about justice.
The rights group notes that Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, a leader of the Mai Mai militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is running for office in National Assembly elections, scheduled for this month. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for him on mass rape charges in January.
"Congolese authorities should be arresting Sheka for mass rape whether he is running for office or not," Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
"The failure to arrest someone who is out publicly campaigning for votes sends a message that even the most egregious crimes will go unpunished."
Witnesses said armed members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, and the Mai Mai militia were behind widespread sexual violence in DRC. The FDLR is linked to the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
"If the Congolese government is serious about ending sexual violence, then it needs to demonstrate the political will to arrest those implicated in mass rape," said Van Woudenberg.