The UN Security Council [official website] on Friday issued a condemned the recent mass rapes [text] in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], calling for justice for the victims. In the statement, issued by current Security Council President Ertugrul Apakan, the council reiterated its support for past resolutions on the subjects of security and respect for women and urged the Congolese government to use its full power to prosecute the perpetrators. The Council also called on the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) [official website] to, "enhance its regular interaction with the civilian population, and [draw] attention to the importance of increased community liaison, more patrolling and appropriate communication equipment in areas where they were needed." The statement concluded with a request for a briefing by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on MONUSCO's plan for protecting civilians and strengthening the rule of law in the DRC.
Earlier this month, the UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict called for perpetrators of mass rapes, including heads of DRC militias, to face war crimes charges [JURIST report]. Human rights have long been a major concern in the DRC. In June, national police chief John Numbi was suspended [JURIST report] as part of the ongoing investigation into the murder of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya. In December, Human Rights Watch urged MONUSCO to stop funding military groups [JURIST report] in the country that are committing human rights abuses. In December 2008, Amnesty International reported that rape and sexual warfare have been employed [JURIST report] by both the DRC military and by rebel forces.