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With No Convictions for Minova Rapes, UN Praises DRC, US Power

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 -- Fifteen months after two units of the Congolese Army committed over 100 rapes at Minova, "Sexual Violence in Conflict" was the topic of a panel discussion at the UN on March 6. 

   The UN's envoy on the topic, Zainab Bangura, praised Congolese president Joseph Kabila for his new focus on rape. But have there been any convictions at all for the 100 rapes 15 months ago.

  US Ambassador Samantha Power spoke movingly, also citing the US' bilateral training. But one of the two units involved in the rapes, the 391st Battalion, was trained by the US.

  To her credit, and as Inner City Press first reported, Power raised the Minova rapes to Kabila during the Security Council's French-led trip on October. But what progress if any has been made since then?

  The Enough Project, which ran the event, promised that questions like this one, submitted on paper in the room and on Twitter, will be answered. We'll see.

  The head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous dodged Press questions about the Minova rapes for months, even directing his spokesperson to seize the microphone so the questions couldn't be asked. Click here for that video.

  On March 6 Ladsous was at it again, refusing to answer a Press question about allowing a UN-listed child soldier recruiter into "his" mission on Mali and prospectively in the Central African Republic. At the UN, grandiose speeches are given, but too often there is little follow through and no accountability.

 Here's a place to start: the US-trained 391st Battalion of the Congolese Army FARDC, which took part in the mass rape at Minova.

   That was more than 14 months ago, and yet at a February press conference by the UN Mission in the Congo MONUSCO, it was reported that in the already delayed interview of victims in Minova, interviewers spoke with barely a quarter of the more than 200 listed victims. Still no justice.

  Again: the 391st Battalion, one of two charged with the Minova rapes, was trained by the United States. (Click here for comment the US Mission to the UN provided to Inner City Press, which also first reported that Ambassador Samantha Power raised Minova to Joseph Kabila in October.)

  Kobler acknowledged that the most recent hearing in the Minova case had been postponed, that witness statements have still not been taken. Video here, from Minute 6:32.

  Given that the UN says it has a Human Rights Due Diligence Policy of not supporting army units engaged in abuses, how much longer will the UN accept this? Fifteen months and counting.

   Watch this site.

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