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On DRC, ICP Asks Ban Ki-moon of Inaction on Minova Rapes, He Says Doing Utmost

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- After a UN Security Council session on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emerged to take questions from the media.

  The two questions selected were on North Korea and Hugo Chavez. Then Inner City Press asked, “A Congo question?” Ban said yes.

  Inner City Press asked about the 126 rapes by the Congolese Army in Minova from November 20 to 22, and the seeming failure of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous to implement Ban's stated Human Rights Due Diligence policy.

  That policy prohibits the UN from offering support to military units engaged in abuses like the rapes at Minova.

  Three times Ladsous refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about the rapes, each time on video: on November 27, December 7 and December 18, when his spokesman grabbed the UNTV microphone from Inner City Press, click here to view.

  Finally on February 6, after advocacy by the new Free UN Coalition on Access, Ladsous took the question, and said that the UN knows the identity of the majority of the perpetrators of the rape.

  But they have not stopped working with or supporting anyone. After follow-ups, the UN says it is not waiting for the completion of the Congolese investigation.

  Notably, the DRC ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita in his speech on Tuesday did not mention the Minova rapes, or any investigation.

  It appears that DPKO under Ladsous has created or allowed a rape grace period, at least with respect to Minova.

  In his response to Inner City Press' question on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon said that the new framework will address sexual violence.

   Ban Ki-moon said the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy is always applied wherever the UN is operating. He said that discussing this matter himself and through his Special Representatives on ending sexual violence in conflict, he aims to give the highest political priorities at the leaders' level and protect the human right rights and human dignity of the civilian population.

   Ban Ki-moon concluded, we will do our best, we will use our utmost efforts.

   Even French minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told Inner City Press earlier on Tuesday that “time is the enemy” in rape investigations; Inner City Press suggested she convey this to Ladsous.

   Ban Ki-moon, of course, would be in the best position to get this issue address and his stated policy implemented. Watch this site.

From the UN's March 5, 2013transcription:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you about these rapes in Minova [in eastern DRC]. I wanted to get your direct answer on this. There is something called the human rights due diligence policy – the UN is not supposed to support units of the FARDC [Congolese armed forces] who engaged in abuse. But your own DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has said that there were 126 rapes in Minova in late November… It’s been 3.5 months and Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous [Under-Secretary-General of DPKO] has said they know identity of the perpetrators. How can it be implemented so that those who engage in abuse don’t receive support from MONUSCO or yourself? Thank you.

SG Ban Ki-moon: This Framework is going to address comprehensively all of the situations. Of course sexual violence is one of the areas the United Nations will continue to address. This is not only in the DRC, [but] all around the world in conflict areas. The human rights due diligence policy will be always applied, wherever the United Nations will be operating. And I have been discussing this matter, directly myself and through my Special Representatives, on ending sexual violence in conflict zones, to give political priority, highest political priority, at the leaders’ level to eradicate sexual violence and protecting the human rights, human dignity, of civilian populations. The Framework for the security, cooperation, and development of the DRC is focusing on this issue. Of course, peace and stability will be the key concerns and priority. But to have peace and security, we need to protect the civilian population, particularly women and girls whose human rights have been abused during the last many, many, many years. We will do our best, our utmost efforts, to eliminate this practice. Thank you very much.

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