Increasing violence in North Kivu against civilians, also committed by soldiers and police

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Kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, as well as rape and sexual violence, torture. These are crimes committed against the person in the Territory of Rutshuru, in the province of North Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This was denounced by LISVDHE, a local organization for the defense of human rights. Missionary sources sent Agenzia Fides the organization’s latest report, prepared by volunteers living in the region. The violence is committed both by men in civilian clothes armed with rifles or bladed weapons, or by members of the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC) or the Congolese national police.

Many of the victims of sexual violence are very young girls between the ages of 12 and 15. One of the last brutal incidents took place on July 11, when five young girls aged 12 to 21 were abducted by four armed men as they returned from the rural market of Kabaya / Rumangabo. The victims were taken to the bush where they suffered gang rape and sexual assault by their torturers.

After three days of captivity and after being subjected to severe torture, they were ordered to contact their relatives to negotiate their release, which took place after the payment of a ransom. Several incidents involve police and military personnel committing abuses against civilians.

“LISVDHE condemns and denounces kidnappings, rapes and sexual violence, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, physical and mental torture, of which girls, women, men and children in the territory of Rutshuru are victims, despite the imposition of the military administration”.

LISVDHE also condemns the silence and the culpable passivity of the authorities responsible for the safety and protection of citizens. It is for this reason that it calls on the military judicial authorities to conduct rigorous, urgent and impartial investigations into human rights violations; military commanders, on the one hand, to step up operations against illegal armed groups, and on the other hand, to instill in their soldiers respect for human rights and to apply the military code against those who commit abuse and violence against civilians.