Congo

Over 27,000 Congolese women raped in 10 years

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Brazzaville, Congo (PANA) - More than 27,000 women and girls were raped during or after the decade-long conflict in Congo, newspapers reported in Brazzaville Thursday, quoting a UNICEF report.
Rapes are still common in conflict zones like Pool region, where fighting has been going on since March 2002 between government forces and "Ninja" militiamen headed by Pastor Frederic Bitsangou, alias Ntumi.

Other women and girls were also raped during the violence, which occurred in major urban centres like Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie, Nkayi in the south, Owando and Gamboma in northern Congo.

However, this high figure does not reflect the true picture of how many people were raped in Congo because some of the victims are sometimes ashamed of reporting to NGOs.

NGOs have on many occasions accused government troops, a majority of whom once belonged to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso former "Cobras" militia group of raping women and girls, or violating human rights.

Congo's Justice Minister Jean Martin Mbemba said that he was informed about cases of rape, arbitrary arrest, torture and other atrocities that were being committed in various police stations.

Violence has persisted between government forces and various militiamen since 1993 when these were created by the three top Congolese politicians -- President Denis Sassou Nguesso, his deposed predecessor Pascal Lissouba and the exiled former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas.

Meawhile, Mbemba announced that Francophone ministers would attend an international conference devoted to human rights to be held in Brazzaville later this year.

The ministers will examine ways of enhancing mechanisms for the application of international human rights treaties and conventions within signatory states.

They would also dwell on other issues related to the promotion and protection of human rights and armed conflicts in the French-speaking space.

According to the minister, human rights NGOs, national human rights commissions, national human rights departments will also participate in the meeting. Algeria and other countries will send observers.

Pan African News Agency
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