Today the BBC reported that a Congolese army commander led an attack that saw up to 50 women raped over the new year in Fizi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This devastating report comes on the heels of another account of mass rape in the DRC last summer. The need to end impunity in the Congo has never been more urgent.
The Fizi events are another telling example of the consequences of the virtual impunity the Congolese forces benefit from. The failure to hold the Congolese army to account when they fail to carry out their protection role or commit crimes themselves in turn encourages further violations.
Amnesty International welcomes the initial commitment shown by the Congolese authorities to ensure that those responsible for these recent violations are held to account – notably the arrest of 12 officers of the 43rd sector of Amani Leo and initial investigations by the Military Prosecutor of South Kivu. Such steps must however be taken forward – more often than not investigations in the DRC are never brought to a conclusion. A recent example of this is the investigation into the mass rapes that occurred in Walikale, North Kivu, in August 2010 which have now stalled.
The Congolese authorities must ensure that those responsible for these violations are held to account- through thorough investigations and free and fair trials. No one, regardless of their status, should be above the law.