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UN envoy urges sanctions for rebel over Congo rapes

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 14 Oct 2010 09:26 AM
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. Click For Restrictions. http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - A U.N. Security Council committee should consider sanctions against a Rwandan Hutu rebel leader over the rape of hundreds of villagers in eastern Congo in August, a senior U.N. official said on Thursday.

U.N. special representative for sexual violence in armed conflict Margot Wallstrom told the 15-nation Security Council a man known as "Colonel Serafim" was among those believed to be responsible for the rape of over 300 people.

"I urge the (Security Council sanctions) committee to consider the inclusion of Lieutenant Colonel Serafim of the (Rwandan Hutu rebel) FDLR on its sanctions list," Wallstrom said.

"This may be done on the basis of the credible information from the witnesses on the scene that he also commanded the mass rapes in Walikale," she told council members.

Earlier this month, U.N. peacekeepers captured a rebel commander named only as "Colonel Mayele," whom they accused of being behind the rapes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. [ID:nLDE69428B]

A U.N. report last month said Colonel Mayele led a coalition of militiamen that attacked the town of Luvungi on July 30 and held it until Aug. 3, raping at least 303 people.

Wallstrom said it was important for council members to "use all the means at our disposal" to end impunity for rape in Congo and elsewhere. "The leverage we gain from the credible threat of council sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence cannot be underestimated," she said.

The United Nations peacekeeping force MONUSCO -- the world&${esc.hash}39;s largest U.N. peacekeeping mission -- was criticized for failing to prevent the mass rapes, which took place just 20 miles (32 km) from a U.N. base.

Congo&${esc.hash}39;s eastern provinces are under siege by Rwandan Hutu FDLR insurgents and Mai Mai militia who have lingered in the vast mineral-rich zone since Congo&${esc.hash}39;s 1998-2003 war. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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