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Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has witnessed some of the world’s highest levels of sexual violence over the last decade and, as a result, has been a focus of global initiatives to prevent, stop, and punish rape in armed conflict.

PHR’s Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones launched our training and advocacy initiative in eastern DRC in 2011 to help improve skills for forensic documentation, and collection and preservation of evidence of sexual violence.

The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones partners with Dr. Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, and his dedicated staff and colleagues. Our partnership works to help strengthen the capacity of local doctors, nurses, police, lawyers, and judges to improve evidence of sexual violence in order to support prosecutions of these crimes. Together with Panzi clinicians, we have been training and mentoring doctors and nurses at Panzi Hospital as well as at other clinics in South Kivu to more effectively document and preserve court-admissible evidence and to improve medical care and treatment for survivors.

Learn more about Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital.

Background

PHR has been documenting human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1997 as a part of its Public Health Effects of Conflict exploration.

In June of 1997 we published our report on Investigations in Eastern Congo and Western Rwanda, released at a hearing sponsored by the US House International Relations Committee. The report outlined the roles of key figures, governments, and policies contributing to political and economic unrest, insecurity, and vulnerability, as well as exposed the killing of 2,000 to 3,000 civilians in Western Rwanda.

PHR Asylum Network volunteer doctors also work with victims of rape and injustice from the DRC, documenting the abuses and violations they've suffered for asylum applications.

ICC Finds Germain Katanga Guilty of War Crimes, but Acquits Him of Sexual Violence Charges (March 7, 2014)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today found Germain Katanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) guilty of war crimes, but acquitted him of sexual offences in the first case that specifically involved these charges.

PHR-Led Bill to Protect Health Workers Introduced (May 16, 2013)

PHR today helped introduce a bill that would protect health workers globally from increasing attacks during times of war and unrest, and ensure they can continue to provide services without fear of violence, retribution, or arrest.

Foreign Secretary, William Hague announces new UK funds to help survivors of rape during a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (gov.uk, March 26, 2013)

Foreign Secretary, William Hague, today announced £205,288 ($312,110) in new UK funding to support the work of Physicians for Human Rights working out of the Panzi Hospital in eastern DRC, to help efforts to develop local and national capacity to document and collect evidence of sexual violence.

Congolese Warlord Must Now Face ICC Trial on War Crimes Charges (March 19, 2013)

PHR welcomes the news that notorious warlord Bosco Ntaganda has voluntarily entered US custody in Rwanda and agreed to face trial on war crime charges at the International Criminal Court.

More -General News »

The Rwandan Genocide: An Indelible Stain (April 7, 2014)

PHR's director of international policy and partnerships/senior advisor, Susannah Sirkin, discusses the Rwandan genocide 20 years later, highlighting that "never again" has not been adhered to. Conflicts in Syria, Sudan, and the Central African Republic continue, and the world is incapable of an effective response.

Regardless of Outcome, Katanga Verdict Will Be a Significant Step Forward (March 4, 2014)

The recognition of sexual violence as an international crime at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a major step forward. The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga case is the first at the ICC to charge a defendant with crimes of sexual violence and represents a crucial milestone for the ICC and for victims of sexual violence.

Why You Should Join This International Campaign (October 25, 2013)

This month marks the anniversary of a terrible event: the October 2012 attempt on Dr. Denis Mukwege's life at his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Barriers to Justice for Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC (July 30, 2013)

Often referred to as the “rape capital of the world,” the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has yet to break free of its human rights crisis. In March of this year, our team of eight graduate students from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University traveled to the DRC to research access to justice for survivors of sexual violence.

More -General Posts »

PHR Endorses Statement of International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict on the Attack Against Dr. Denis Mukwege (October 2012)

Physicians for Human Rights, a founding Advisory Committee member of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, strongly endorses the statement the Campaign released today following the violent attack last week on our esteemed colleague Dr. Denis Mukwege in Bukavu, DRC.

Rape as a Weapon of War: Accountability for Sexual Violence in Conflict (April 2008)

At the request of Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), PHR submitted a statement for the record as part of "Rape as a Weapon of War: Accountability for Sexual Violence in Conflict" hearing held on April 1st, 2008 by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee.

Investigations in Eastern Congo and Western Rwanda (June 1997)

Physicians for Human Rights released the following report on human rights violations in Eastern Congo and Western Rwanda on 16 June 1997 at a hearing sponsored by the House International Relations Committee.

More -General Research »

Featured Expert

Coleen Kivlahan, MD, MSPH

Coleen Kivlahan, MD, MSPH

As a family medicine physician for more than 25 years, Coleen Kivlahan serves the Association of American Medical Colleges as the senior director for health systems innovation. She is an avid volunteer with PHR in the Asylum Program, both as a trainer and medical evaluator, as well as a volunteer medical advisor and lead trainer for the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones. Read More »