WALTER JAMES

Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.



Braçage

20 Aug

Col. Kifaru Niragiye and his troops have been re-absorbed into the FARDC, with no promise of prosecution or investigation on the role they played in the mass rapes in the Nyakiele/Abala/Kanguli area in June. We are still waiting for a military judge to bring charges against Col. Kifaru and his men. You may recall that on July 7th, Col. Kifaru and his troops, ex-PARECO combatants from North Kivu, entered the braçage center in Luberizi after deserting a few weeks before due to their discontent with the re-organization of the command structure of their unit.

SOS FED staff inspecting a map of Fizi Territory

SOS FED staff inspecting a map of Fizi Territory

However, there is a flip side to the braçage process: perhaps it has worked for certain units of the FARDC to the benefit of the Fizi community in general. During Operation Amani Leo in 2010, the SOS FED center in Kikonde was flooded with women who were raped by FARDC soldiers. However, according to the SOS FED staff, the behavior of FARDC soldiers in Kikonde and Kazimia has improved since their return from braçage.

“Before, when you saw an Amani Leo soldier in the street, you turned around and ran the other way,” said SOS FED center manager Sangho Laliya. “Now, we are much less afraid of them.”

The numbers of women arriving at the Kikonde center who have reported being raped by the FARDC is also dropping. According to the Kikonde/Kazimia staff, the braçage training has professionalized the soldiers in their area, leading to much fewer cases of human rights violations in their areas.

Obviously, not all FARDC soldiers are rapists or violent maniacs, and the testimony of the SOS FED center staff bears witness to the benefits of the braçage process to those who are willing to change. However, the Congolese government still has not answered the question of what is to be done with integrated armed groups who refuse to stop preying upon the population. The re-absorption of Col. Kifaru and the near standstill of the justice process for the Kikozi mass rape in March are glaring examples of the impunity enjoyed by many armed groups in South Kivu and the lack of social justice for those crushed under their heels.

Posted By WALTER JAMES

Posted Aug 20th, 2011

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