subscribe: Posts | Comments

Human rights law and reports ignored


South Sudan and the DR Congo governments cover up sexual violence reports.

Guest blog from Women4Women International

A UN human rights investigator has been expelled from South Sudan, after producing allegedly false reports accusing the South Sudanese army of torturing, raping and murdering civilians.

The UN has said that the expulsion breached South Sudan’s legal obligations to the United Nations, on which the world’s youngest nation is highly dependant.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July last year after decades of civil war, yet conflict still continues throughout disputed border areas.

According to Amnesty International, during the 22-year war, 2 million civilians died, 2 million women were raped, and 4 million were displaced from their homes.

The expulsion of the UN officer has sparked unease throughout the UN and human rights groups, who claim that South Sudan allows abuses by security forces, composed of poorly trained guerrilla and militia fighters.

Last month Amnesty International published a report accusing South Sudan’s security forces of committing ‘shocking’ and widespread acts of violence against civilians.

Government spokesman for South Sudan, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the officer had been “writing reports which have no truth in them”. He did not elaborate on this claim.

This event reveals a pattern in war-torn governments fighting to keep reports of human rights abuses from the public eye.

Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege narrowly escaped an assassination attempt last week, fuelling theories that the Congolese government is trying to silence his pleas to end violence against women.

Eastern Congo has long been labelled one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman, where sexual violence is systematically utilised as a weapon of war to terrorise women and destroy communities.

Dr Mukwege established the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, eastern Congo with incentives of treating female victims of rape and sexual violence.

He has treated more than 40,000 women since the hospital opened in 1999.

Sources claim that Dr Mukwege has made an enemy of Congolese president Joseph Kabila, potentially upsetting the president by exposing the extent of the sexual crimes committed against Congolese women and putting the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the forefront of this focus.

Last month Dr Mukwege attended the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence conference in New York City, where he strongly denounced mass rape in DR Congo.

The attempts by South Sudanese and Congolese governments to silence human rights activists indicate that the levels of corruption may be even more multifaceted than previously anticipated.

Women are not only brutally targeted by militia, but ignored by their own governments – governments so intent on keeping the sexual violence endemic under covers that it appears they will target anyone who dares speak out.

The evidence is undeniable: what we are witnessing is truly a war on women.

Women for Women International is a non-profit organisation that provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty, to stability and self-sufficiency.

We work with women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, and 6 other war-torn countries.

To find out what you can do to help, visit our website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *