6 June 2014

Freedom from Torture has published a report entitled “Rape as torture in the DRC: Sexual violence beyond the conflict zone”, which documents the torture of women by state security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), mainly in non-conflict contexts. The report highlights the extensive use of rape and other forms of sexual torture against women detained, mostly for political reasons, and the use of various other torture methods such as beating, burning and psychological forms of torture.

The report is based on a study of 34 forensic reports prepared for individual torture survivors by the Medical Foundation Medico-Legal Report Service at Freedom from Torture. All the women eventually fled the DRC and claimed asylum in the UK. Freedom from Torture states that all 34 women were detained arbitrarily by state forces – including by the military, police or intelligence services – without due process according to international human rights standards and tortured, on each occasion they were detained.

The evidence gathered by Freedom from Torture demonstrates that in the DRC there is extensive use of rape and other forms of torture against women who are detained by the state, as well as impunity for suspected perpetrators.

Freedom from Torture urges the UK Home Office to urgently update its asylum policy on the DRC, which should include a specific section on women, recognising the high incidence of sexual violence outside the conflict zone, that the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence by state actors is widespread and that sexual violence as a form of torture is extensively used against women detained in the DRC. The organisation also calls on the UK to update its Country of Origin Information, its asylum policy and practice to recognise the risk of torture for women if they are returned to the DRC.

Freedom from Torture calls on the DRC to ensure that there is a system in place that protects survivors of torture and that enables them to obtain redress, including compensation and rehabilitation, as required by the UN Convention against Torture.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 06 June 2014.
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