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DRC Gender-based violence

EU must aim to make justice accessible and efficient for women in the DRC
Brussels, 26 March 2014

Described as the rape capital of the world by former European Commissioner Margot Wallstrm now UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been a war zone for twenty years. Massive and systematic sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, has reached epidemic proportions in DRC. One can greet the European Union's genuine commitment on justice and women's rights in the DRC. In the past years, in line with the rest of the international community, the EU has been consistent in aiming to address the sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC. The Union has for several years committed to support efforts to reform the security sector to improve governance, strengthen the authority of the State to fight against impunity and promote a just and sustainable peace in the DRC. In December 2013, FIDH published a report, DRC: Victims of Sexual Violence rarely obtain justice and never receive reparation, which however shows that despite EU's efforts, the situation concerning victims of crimes of sexual violence in DRC is still deplorable1. This situation is intrinsically connected to the general challenges of a weak justice system which not only is inefficient in breaking the cycle of impunity but also stigmatizes victims of SGBV. But it is also linked with the lack of support of EU action by strong political action.

EU action must be backed with stronger political demands

In October 2013, the European Court of Auditors (ECA)2 indeed gave a mild assessment of the EU aid for governance in the DRC, indicating that while support was well-intentioned and achieving some results, progress was low, uneven and, overall, limited3.
1 2 3 FIDH Report: DRC: Victims of Sexual Violence rarely obtain justice and never receive reparation, October 2013, http://www.fidh.org/en/africa/democratic-republic-of-congo/14338-drc-denial-of-justice-for-the-victims-of-sexual-crimes European Court of Auditors, Special Report No 9/2013 EU support for governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR13_09/SR13_09_EN.pdf The ECA notably indicated that fewer than half of the programmes examined have delivered, or are likely to deliver, most of the expected results While most programmes assessed by the ECA are considered relevant problems lie in the design, implementation and sustainability aspects. The Justice Programme for the Restauration of Justice in the East of Congo (REJUSCO), 9 million Euros under the 9th EDF, was notably rated C (serious weaknesses on the design and results aspects and D (criterion not met concerning sustainability). This makes this programme one of the most severely assessed by the International Federation for Human Rights Permanent Delegation to the European Union 11-15, rue de la Linire-1 ! "russels - #el $ %& & ! ' (( &% - Fa) %& & ! ' (( %% ***+fidh+org #*itter ,fidh-eu 1

In this assessment, the European Court of Auditors indicated that the Commission needed to be more demanding of the Congolese authorities when monitoring compliance with the conditions agreed and the commitments made. For the ECA, the EU needed to ensure that its funding is closely linked to the agreement of the partner country on programme conditions, objectives and risks and firmly underpinned by effective policy dialogue with the government on the definition and implementation of appropriate reform policies and strategies. The ECA found overall that conditionality had a weak incentive effect and policy dialogue has not been exploited to its full potential and adequately coordinated with EU Members States in all areas4. FIDH calls on the EU to act upon the recommendations of the ECA and to seek more efficiency in its action in the DRC. To do so, the EU should develop measurable indicators 5 and benchmarks of progress in the areas of Justice and women's rights to serve as a basis for the designing of the most effective policy mix to achieve objectives in cooperation with local, national and international actors. Aiming at the genuine implementation of objectives will pass through reinforced demands and follow-up of these areas in the political dialogue with the DRC. It will also demand further capacity support of the civil society and their genuine consultation, including in the drafting and implementation and follow-up through new monitoring mechanisms, of the Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme for the DRC.

EU must reinforce its action to lead to real results

On gender-based violence

As the largest donors of aid to the country, the EU and its Member States have integrated gender issues as a transversal component of their cooperation 6. They have concretely sought to tackle SGBV challenges in a comprehensive way through the important range of instruments at their disposal, including humanitarian support7, health programmes8, support to civil society
ECA in the DRC. The Justice component of the Governance support programme (Programme d'appui la gouvernance (PAG) Volet Justice), worth 9 million Euros under the 9th EDF is considered to have minor weaknesses (B) in its design and results but has serious weaknesses (C) concerning sustainability. 4 The ECA concretely recommended for EU aid to be more efficient that the Commission strengthen its use of conditionality and policy dialogue. This will involve (i) setting clear, relevant, realistic and time-bound conditions, (ii) periodically assessing compliance with the agreed conditions, and (iii) responding firmly, proportionately and in a timely manner if the DRC government shows insufficient commitment to compliance, where appropriate by suspending or terminating the programme. In their reply, the EEAS and the European Commission indicated that the use of preconditions would have been ineffective in a State like the DRC where all administrative and social structures had been destroyed. They have put forward the contractual approach presented as more realistic, promoting 'mutual accountability as proposed by the principles agreed internationally in 2011 for a 'new deal for engagement in fragile states'. 5 - Reform of criminal law to ensure access by victims, including women, to Courts, particularly by increasing legal aid; - The right to effective remedy and to reparation; - Primacy of civilian jurisdictions over military jurisdictions in matters of crimes under international law; - Creation of a mixed court specialising in international crimes; - Incorporation of the rules of international criminal law into national law, including those concerning the status of participating victims; 6 Initiative pour lutter contre les violences lies au genre en Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo (RDC) : Femmes et Hommes, progressons ensemble Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo / Provinces de Kinshasa, Bandundu et Maniema / galit des femmes CRIS: 2012/24-301, http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/documents/aap/2013/af_aap-spe_2013_cod_p2.pdf 7 14 ECHO projects concerning assistance to victims. International Federation for Human Rights Permanent Delegation to the European Union 11-15, rue de la Linire-1 ! "russels - #el $ %& & ! ' (( &% - Fa) %& & ! ' (( %% ***+fidh+org #*itter ,fidh-eu &

projects9, the Instrument for Stability10, the EUPOL11 and EUSEC missions12 and Justice reform programmes13. In July 2013, the European Union launched a 25 million Euro programme on 48 months to combat gender-based violence in the DRC14 to reduce gender-based violence in the Western provinces (Kinshasa Bandundu) and the East (Maniema) through institutional support for behavioral change, women's empowerment and strengthening of the judiciary and security (police) systems. The programme will include the reinforcement of the specialised units in the national Congolese police, the reinforcement of these units' cooperation with the judicial bodies to ensure the quality of investigations, a reinforced access to justice for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and follow-up on prosecutions. This is a positive trend. However, the EU would need to scale up the financial and geographical scope of this kind of programmes, and ensure that the justice components integrate all essential aspects of reinforcement of women's access to justice to lead to genuine results. In addition, the EU must not contempt itself from action at programme level. It must demand that the DRC authorities take concrete steps to reinforce women's rights and address rampant discrimination in many sectors.

FIDH calls on the EU to: Ensure that the question of violence against women in the DRC remains high on the EU agenda. Demand and support the ratification and implementation by the DRC of international and regional women's rights protection instruments, including the Optional Protocol to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Demand and support the reform of all discriminatory provisions of national legislation, including the ongoing reform of the Family Code. Demand the full implementation of the two 2006 laws on sexual violence. Prioritise women's rights in the aid programming and budget support to aim to a strengthening of the Congolese national strategy for combating sexual violence, and a significant increase of the budget of the National Agency to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls, within the Ministry of Gender. Ensure the monitoring of the results of initiatives concerning women's rights and justice. In this context, ensure adequate training and follow-up with national and local authorities, the forces of law and order and the justice system, and effective coordination with
8 9 Health programs for victims of sexual violence in the east of DRC, etc. Reinforcement of local NGOs and promotion of access to Justice of victims through the EIDHR and the NSA-LA financial lines.

10 Support to judicial proceedings cells.

11 The EUPOL mandate notably entails a gender and human rights component and a particular focus on the fight against
impunity for sexual violence. 12 Les interventions de l'Union europenne en matire de lutte contre les violences bases sur le genre et les violences sexuelles, 17 February 2014, http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/congo_kinshasa/documents/news/actions_ue_sgvb_en_rdc_tableau_fr.doc 13 Programme d'Appui la Rforme de la Justice (PARJE) and Programme d'Appui la Rforme de la Justice l'Est (PARJE/'Uhaki Safi'). 14 Initiative pour lutter contre les violences lies au genre en Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo (RDC) : Femmes et Hommes, progressons ensemble Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo / Provinces de Kinshasa, Bandundu et Maniema / galit des femmes CRIS: 2012/24-301, http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/documents/aap/2013/af_aap-spe_2013_cod_p2.pdf International Federation for Human Rights Permanent Delegation to the European Union 11-15, rue de la Linire-1 ! "russels - #el $ %& & ! ' (( &% - Fa) %& & ! ' (( %% ***+fidh+org #*itter ,fidh-eu %

the various project partners. Include the DRC as a priority case in the campaign on women's political and economic participation, under the European Union Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy, and pursue efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security. Fully implement the EU guidelines on violence against women. To this end, ensure that EU observers are sent to attend trials on crimes of sexual violence and call on the Congolese authorities to adopt strategies and mechanisms to prevent violence and to support victims at all levels - local, provincial and national, to fight impunity and facilitate victims' access to legal proceedings up to the reparations stage and the enforcement of judgements. In accordance with the guidelines, analyse data concerning violence against women, discriminatory laws and practices and gaps in public policy to ensure a coherent and effective policy.

On the fight against impunity

The EU makes regular calls to hold individuals responsible of human rights violations accountable and to address the culture of impunity in DRC. Justice, police and security reform have been a key aspect of the 'governance' priority area one of the three priority areas under the 10th European Fund for Development (FED) for the country. The European Union finances two-thirds of the budget of the Ministry of Justice and leads two main justice reform programmes in DRC. EU justice sector programmes seek to integrate the aim to promote access to justice and support individuals, especially those who are most vulnerable and those who are victims of sexual and gender-based violence15. One of the main Justice Programmes, PARJE (running until 2015) entails a gender-based violence component which includes free legal assistance for victims, while the PARJE/'Uhaki Safi' Programme contains activities to reduce specific obstacles preventing women to access justice. FIDH believes that the EU should reinforce the gender-aspects of its Justice programmes to aim at full access by women to the justice system and overall a better implementation of judicial decisions. The general weakness of the judiciary system and discriminations against women's access to Justice are indeed the main reasons why women cannot find justice. Court proceedings lack transparency and costs are exorbitant. If victims and their lawyers cannot pay the many official and unofficial legal costs, cases cannot be concluded. Furthermore, few verdicts are definitive and effective. Most of those sentenced manage to escape from detention, and none of the orders for reparations have been implemented. As both law and practice currently stand, victims of crimes of sexual violence, which can amount to crimes under international law, rarely obtain justice and never receive reparations. The European Union must use the opportunity of the 'Cadre de Concertation pour la Justice' to play an active role and propose concrete support in key areas. This political approach must be done in coherence with the programming of aid to the DRC.

15 Allocution d'ouverture par S.E.M. Jean-Michel Dumond, Ambassadeur de l'Union europenne, Table ronde sur la situation des droits de l'Homme en Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo avec les Chefs des Mission des Etats membres de l'Union europenne et des dfenseurs des droits de l'Homme Kinshasa, 12 December 2013, http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/congo_kinshasa/press_corner/all_news/news/2013/20131212_1_fr.htm International Federation for Human Rights Permanent Delegation to the European Union 11-15, rue de la Linire-1 ! "russels - #el $ %& & ! ' (( &% - Fa) %& & ! ' (( %% ***+fidh+org #*itter ,fidh-eu (

FIDH calls on the EU to: Put the issues of the fight against impunity, access to justice and violence against women at the heart of political dialogue with DRC and ongoing regional discussions and continue to condemn, in the strongest terms, attacks on civilians, including women and children. Reiterate key demands like the need for DRC to incorporate the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) into domestic law as soon as possible, and the abolition of the death penalty, including for international crimes. Ensure that support to the justice system is identified as one of the priority programming elements of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for the DRC and incorporate specific measures concerning the fight against impunity, women's access to justice and combating sexual violence. Priority support to the reform of the Judiciary should in particular aim at: encouraging greater capacity of civilian jurisdictions, including protection of legal personnel, witnesses and victims, and free legal aid for victims; supporting the establishment of mixed specialised chambers within the Congolese courts for the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes under international law; encouraging the State to establish a comprehensive reparations policy; bring justice closer to the people, notably through support to mobile hearings and outreach programmes; encouraging national authorities, in particular the Justice and Finance Ministries, to guarantee payment of compensation due to victims, as well as access to justice and reparation proceedings for victims of crimes of sexual violence free of charge; ensure the training and recruitment of more women judges. Encourage the Congolese Parliament to go forward with the following draft legislations, after genuine consultation of the civil society, of judicial authorities and of the international community: The draft implementing legislation of the ICC Statute, which should include a definition of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, in compliance with the Rome Statute. The draft legislation on the creation, composition and functioning of specialised and mixed chambers on international crimes. The EU should encourage the final text to ensure a mixed composition of the chambers; civilian jurisdiction over cases involving members of the military; the reinforcement of victims access to justice, notably by authorising the constitution of 'partie civile'; support to victims' representation and legal assistance; the setting-up of a support fund for victims; the inclusion of an explicit and comprehensive definition of reparation. The adoption of a new legislation ensuring effectively that victims do not have to pay specific costs in the proceedings to obtain justice and in particular the reparation proceedings (implementation of reparation awards) The adoption of the new family code, in accordance with the international obligations of DRC in term of womens rights The draft legislation on Human Rights Defenders with a view to develop alert and
International Federation for Human Rights Permanent Delegation to the European Union 11-15, rue de la Linire-1 ! "russels - #el $ %& & ! ' (( &% - Fa) %& & ! ' (( %% ***+fidh+org #*itter ,fidh-eu 5

protection mechanisms in the Justice Ministry. Reinforce the human rights and impunity fighting components of the EUSEC and EUPOL activities and future mandates, as well as improve the coordination between the police and judicial fields reforms to fight against impunity.

Talking the issues of Sexual and Gender-based Violence is inseparable from addressing the challenges of Justice and impunity. The European Union will not achieve concrete results in DRC if it expects them from coming only from aid programming. Aid must be integrated into a strategic approach combining local action at the level of the Delegation and stronger political demands within the political dialogue with the DRC.

International Federation for Human Rights Permanent Delegation to the European Union 11-15, rue de la Linire-1 ! "russels - #el $ %& & ! ' (( &% - Fa) %& & ! ' (( %% ***+fidh+org #*itter ,fidh-eu !