The Democratic Republic of Congo national army has reacted to accusations of sexual violence by its soldiers.
Major-General Richard-Leon Kasonga, the army spokesperson said soldiers accused of sexual violence against women and girls were themselves victims of accusations without evidence.
Kasonga spoke during a press briefing accompanied by government and police spokespersons, Tuesday, May 4, following the declaration of a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri where most of the sexual violence allegedly took place.
The army spokesperson said during the period of the siege which begins today, Thursday, May 6, “soldiers are going to respect human rights and international humanitarian rights.”
“It is not enough to declare or make an accusation for X or Y to automatically become guilty. Unfortunately, in our country, many of the soldiers cited in the cases of the violations of human rights are victims of mere accusations and we end up waiting for proofs which are never presented,” he said.
“On the contrary, when those who are authors of these reprehensible acts are identified, military justice takes charge of them as stipulated by law, there is no argument about that.”
The army spokesperson on his part condemned persons who he said “did not understand issues concerning the military” but “went about tarnishing the image of the army.”
“Very often, people found in drinking places or speakeasies become specialists in military questions and when speaking of things concerning the military, they think they know more than those who manage these issues on a daily basis,” he said.
“The army is a machine created to win wars and the elements on the ground whom we call manoeuvres are people who have been given quality training after accepting to serve under the flag.”
“They are behind the victories won against the enemy and they are also human beings who sometimes have weaknesses.”
Several Congolese army officers are under international sanctions for violation of human rights.
Among them are the Inspector General of the Congolese Armed Forces Gabriel Amisi, his predecessor John Numbi, General Muhindo Akili and others. Several international organizations have been calling for their dismissal from the army.
In March this year, the Joint Bureau of the United Nations on Human Rights documented 39 violations of human rights and fundamental liberties in connection with democracy.
The number was almost the same as in February 2021 when 40 of such cases were recorded.
The majority of violations were by police (16 violations) and soldiers (15 violations) of the national army.
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