Commanders of the newly-formed M26 militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are among the rebel groups targeted for indictment over mass rape in the country, a UN official said here. The M26 was created 26 October 2012 (hence the name: M26), and it comprises fighters who refused integration into the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC).
The new group, which is operating in Mpati, in north Kivu, is suspected of involvement in the mass rapes in the region. The group is also accused of recruiting school children within its ranks.
According to UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence, Zainab Bangoura, some rebel commanders within the M23 militia, which was formed much earlier than M26 and comprises former government soldiers who defected in Eastern DRC, have been indicted for mass rape in the region, and could soon receive summons from the International Criminal Court (ICC)
They are also targeted for further sanctions by a UN Sanctions Committee on DRC.
'The commanders are not under our control. We are looking at our capacity to react much faster against rape, eventually, the commanders will be held responsible,' Bangoura said.
Benita Diop, the President of Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), which has been campaigning to bolster the protection of women in conflict, said her group supported the efforts to bring DRC rape perpetrators to justice.
'We witnessed atrocities when we visited hospitals in Goma, at the time of the M23 entrance into Goma. We have gone to the UN Security Council to inform them of what is happening,' said Diop, voted among Time Magazine's most influential personalities in 2010.
The UN has proposed the creation of a local tribunal to try perpetrators, mostly junior rebels accused of rape, but a legislation to set up the tribunal was rejected in July 2012 by local parliamentarians.
“The investigations are continuing. We cannot indict everybody, but we must also set up a local mechanism. The big guns would be dealt with in a moment in time,” Bangoura told journalists after attending a Pre-Summit Gender meeting in Addis Ababa
Rebel groups in the DRC have gained notoriety for using rape as a weapon of war.
According to estimates, there are 400,000 victims of rape in the DRC.