KINSHASA—The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced this week that its armed forces have neutralized from the country more than 1,000 members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group since January 2015. The rebels were concentrated in the DRC’s eastern region and have been accused of numerous human rights violations including murder, rape and recruitment of child soldiers. The announcement was made by General Leon Mushale, commander of the third zone defense of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC).

“Security in the DRC is a requirement for any democracy, as it ensures peace and prosperity for the Congolese people, as well as for the nation’s political and economic development,” said Vice Minister of Defense René Nsibu. “Our government and Armed Forces are determined to ensure the security and territorial integrity of this country. We continue to implement reforms that will modernize our forces to ensure they are strong, well equipped, professional and respectful of the rights of all, and will continue to coordinate with the United Nations and partner countries to re-establish peace across the region.”

Along with these successes, the DRC has continued to reform its security sector, including the army and police. Training supported by the international community is facilitating the modernization of the DRC’s security forces. The United Nations recently noted that from January through September of last year, more than 800 DRC police officers were trained by UN personnel.

The DRC continues efforts to stop sexual violence across its territory. UN monitors noted a 33 percent decline in rapes attributable to armed men between 2013 and 2014. The UN has also praised significant and encouraging progress in the DRC’s fight against impunity, with 146 FARDC soldiers and 40 police sentenced for human rights violations from January through September 2015. Other actions to eliminate sexual violence and impunity include:

  • In March 2013, the DRC government signed a Joint Communique with the United Nations that outlined its priority areas in countering sexual violence.
  • In July 2014, President Kabila appointed Jeanine Mabunda Lioko as his Personal Representative on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment. Since this appointment, the DRC has strengthened efforts against sexual violence, including an increase in prosecutions and convictions of civilians, police and military personnel charged with such crimes.
  • Between July and December 2014 alone, 135 cases were brought before DRC courts in the government’s efforts to fight against impunity for perpetrators of sexual assault.
  • The DRC government established an emergency hotline in November 2014 to respond to victims of sexual violence seeking medical or legal assistance.
  • In March 2015, the FARDC commanders signed a landmark declaration to combat rape in war.

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