(No. 82 - February 25, 2011 - 10:50 a.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement concerning the conviction of a high-ranking officer of the Congolese Armed Forces accused of mass rape in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC):
"Canada welcomes the conviction of Lt.-Col. Kibibi Mutware and of eight Congolese soldiers responsible for more than 60 rapes in the DRC. This decision constitutes a major step in efforts to address sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Canada encourages the Government of the DRC to pursue its efforts to ensure that individuals who commit major violations of international humanitarian law and human rights are held accountable for their actions.
"However, Canada remains concerned about the prevalence of serious human rights violations in the eastern region of the DRC, including continued acts of sexual violence and alleged crimes against humanity.
"Since 2006, Canada’s diplomatic and humanitarian commitments in the DRC amount to nearly $350 million. Canada’s commitments to development and peacekeeping include funding military-justice projects aimed at putting an end to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
"Given this, we will be funding a project of nearly $3 million over two years for the creation of support cells for judicial and military prosecutions in order to reinforce the ability of Congolese authorities to bring those responsible for sexual violence to justice.
"In October 2010, Canada announced its Action Plan for the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. Canada’s efforts in the DRC are contributing to its implementation."
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