Victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo should receive compensation through a special reparations fund, a United Nations panel recommended.
The needs of hundreds of thousands of victims of rape in the Central African country “are largely unmet, particularly in remote areas,” according to a report by a panel convened by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published in Geneva today.
The establishment of a fund to help communities and individuals affected by sexual violence is “a matter of priority,” according to the report. Congo and the UN would oversee the fund along with representatives from the international community, Congolese civil society and victims.
Congo is recovering from more than a decade of war that began in the mid-1990s. Fighting continues in the mineral-rich east, where many rebel groups have loosely integrated into the regular army. Rape has become a common tactic in the conflict, and convictions against perpetrators are rare, according to the report.
Convicted rapists often escape from prison, and in cases where the Congolese government has been found liable for damages, victims have not been paid, the report says.
“The failure to pay these awards is undermining the judiciary and the confidence of victims in the justice system,” according to the report, which was based on a 17-day fact- finding mission throughout Congo in August. The panel interviewed 61 victims ranging in age from three to more than 60.
A reparations fund should partly be financed by the Congolese government and could provide compensation such as in- kind awards of land and community schools or the payment of the costs of trials and treatment, the report said.
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