16 June 2014
British aid money possibly funds rape and torture in DR Congo
A report from the charity Freedom From Torture (FFT) has raised concern that British aid money may be funding police who are employing rape as a means of state-sanctioned torture against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The report found that the Congolese police and security staff are systematically raping the female opponents of President Joseph Kabila, after they were imprisoned in state detention facilities. The report is based on medical evidence from 34 female political activists who fled from DRC to the UK. The findings have raised concerns about the British government’s programme to give over GBP 60m to the DRC’s national police and ‘internal security sector’ to enhance its performance and accountability.
The policy and advocacy manager of FFT, Jean-Benoît Louveaux, welcomed the UK’s efforts to improve the Congolese police force. ‘However, for this commitment to be meaningful, DfID and the UK government must also apply pressure on the DRC to comply with its international human rights obligations, including on torture. It is completely unacceptable to the torture survivors who feature in our report that the DRC has been allowed to get away with not reporting to the UN Committee on Torture for nearly 10 years.’ The report says that police and security personnel can commit human rights violations with total impunity, and appeals to the UK Home Office to update its guidance about sending back women to DRC who have experienced sexual violence.