DRC: Some progress in the fight against impunity but rape still widespread and largely unpunished – UN report

KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) April 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain very serious concerns, with thousands of victims, in particular in the east of the country, over the past four years, according to a UN report released Wednesday. The report also indicates that, while some progress has been made in the fight against impunity for sexual violence, much more needs to be done to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable.

“There is no excuse for sexual violence, and its widespread impunity creates even more injustice. The Government should take all necessary measures to give victims of sexual violence access to justice and ensure their safety. For this, and for the fight against any form of sexual violence, the DRC can count on our full support in a good spirit of continuous partnership,” declared the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC, Martin Kobler.

“Despite an increase in the number of prosecutions of state agents for sexual violence in recent years, there is still a long way to go in the fight against impunity for sexual violence in the DRC,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “I call on the Government to prioritize the fight against impunity for crimes of sexual violence, to promptly complete effective and independent investigations, and to prosecute alleged perpetrators, including those suspected of having command responsibility.”

Note to Editors:

Other important findings of the report:

- The in-depth report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO)* documents serious incidents of sexual violence in the DRC, with over 3,600 victims registered by the office between January 2010 and December 2013. The report also illustrates the systematic nature of some incidents of sexual violence, particularly in the east, with a large number of cases committed in homes or when women are working in fields, going to the market or fetching water.

- The findings of the report indicate that rape is used as a weapon of war to intimidate local communities, and to punish civilians for their real or perceived collaboration with armed groups or the national army. It is also occurring as an

opportunistic crime carried out in tandem with other human rights violations.

- It also shows that armed groups were responsible for just over half the rapes, mostly committed during attacks aimed at gaining control of territories rich in natural resources. Members of the national Congolese army, the FARDC, were responsible for around a third of the rapes. The remaining cases were committed by other state agents.

- In recent years, some progress – although limited – has been observed in the fight against impunity for sexual violence. The UNJHRO registered some 187 convictions by military jurisdictions for sexual violence between July 2011 and December 2013, with sentences ranging from 10 months to 20 years of imprisonment. The United Nations welcomes the increased number of prosecutions and convictions, resulting in part from the technical and logistical support to military justice investigations by international organizations, including MONUSCO, and from the deployment of mobile court hearings.

- Despite the strongly stated commitment of senior Congolese officials, there are still many obstacles that prevent victims of sexual violence from gaining full access to justice. The limited efforts of some Congolese authorities to prosecute sexual violence cases, cases of corruption within the judicial system and the lack of resources and capacity of the judiciary all contribute to impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.

- The report also finds that proceedings very rarely target senior army officers responsible for sexual violence. Only three of the 136 FARDC soldiers convicted during the period under review were senior officers. In addition, members of armed groups almost always escape justice; only four of the 187 people convicted for sexual violence by the military justice system were members of armed groups.

- According to the report, a large number of victims do not report cases for fear of being stigmatized and rejected by their families and communities. Many also lack access to justice because they cannot afford legal fees, medical fees, and travel costs associated with formal legal proceedings. Many lack confidence that they and their families will be safe, as their protection needs are often neglected by judicial authorities.

Source: APO

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New Era of ‘Mega Breaches’ Signals Bigger Payouts and Shifting Behavior for Cybercriminals

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, April 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — After lurking in the shadows for the first ten months of 2013, cybercriminals unleashed the most damaging series of cyberattacks in history. Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) (http://www.symantec.com/security_response/publications/threatreport.jsp), Volume 19, shows a significant shift in cybercriminal behavior, revealing the bad guys are plotting for months before pulling off huge heists – instead of executing quick hits with smaller rewards.

Download the infographic: http://www.apo-mail.org/140409.pdf

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/symantec-1.png

“One mega breach can be worth 50 smaller attacks,” said Sheldon Hand, regional manager for Rest of Africa, Symantec (http://www.symantec.com). “While the level of sophistication continues to grow among attackers, what was surprising last year was their willingness to be a lot more patient – waiting to strike until the reward is bigger and better.”

In 2013, there was a 62 percent increase in the number of data breaches from the previous year, resulting in more than 552 million identities exposed – proving cybercrime remains a real and damaging threat to consumers and businesses alike.

“Security incidents, managed well, can actually enhance customer perceptions of a company; managed poorly, they can be devastating,” wrote Ed Ferrara, VP and principal analyst, Forrester Research. “If customers lose trust in a company because of the way the business handles personal data and privacy, they will easily take their business elsewhere.” (1)

Defense is Harder than Offense

The size and scope of breaches is exploding, putting the trust and reputation of businesses at risk, and increasingly compromising consumers’ personal information – from credit card numbers and medical records to passwords and bank account details. Each of the eight top data breaches in 2013 resulted in the loss of tens of millions of data records. By comparison, 2012 only had a single data breach reach that threshold.

“Nothing breeds success like success – especially if you’re a cybercriminal,” said Hand. “The potential for huge paydays means large-scale attacks are here to stay. Companies of all sizes need to re-examine, re-think and possibly re-architect their security posture.”

Targeted attacks were up 91 percent and lasted an average of three times longer compared to 2012. Personal assistants and those working in public relations were the two most targeted professions – cybercriminals use them as a stepping stone toward higher-profile targets like celebrities or business executives.

For information on steps businesses and consumers can take to better protect themselves – whether it be from a mega data breach, targeted attack or common spam, click here: http://www.symantec.com/security_response/publications/threatreport.jsp.

(1) New Research: CISOs Need To Add Customer Obsession To Their Job Description, Ed Ferrara Forrester Research, Inc. Blog Post, March 2014

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Symantec Corporation.


Katie Beck


+971 553006122


About Symantec

Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ: SYMC) (http://www.symantec.com) is an information protection expert that helps people, businesses and governments seeking the freedom to unlock the opportunities technology brings – anytime, anywhere. Founded in April 1982, Symantec, a Fortune 500 company, operating one of the largest global data-intelligence networks, has provided leading security, backup and availability solutions for where vital information is stored, accessed and shared. The company’s more than 20,000 employees reside in more than 50 countries. Ninety-nine percent of Fortune 500 companies are Symantec customers. In fiscal 2013, it recorded revenues of $6.9 billion. To learn more go to http://www.symantec.com or connect with Symantec at: http://go.symantec.com/socialmedia.

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Source: APO

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WHO and partners scale up the response to the Ebola outbreak

CONAKRY, Guinea, April 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The efforts to control the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Guinean capital Conakry are being intensified. More resources were mobilised and WHO and partners are streamlining their coordination of different components of the response.

To strengthen contact tracing in Conakry, the World Health Organization (WHO) organized an intensive training today for a first group of 70 trainees. They will go into the communities to follow up on specific persons who had close contacts with patients with a confirmed Ebola infection.

Training for health workers on infection control has started yesterday in different departments of the Donka national teaching hospital and will also take place in other health facilities in coming days.

Simultaneously, WHO is setting up an operation centre for alert and response within the Guinean Ministry of Health (MoH) in order to centralize the coordination of all activities linked to detection, search, transportation, hospitalisation and burial of suspect cases.

WHO clinicians continue to support Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and MoH in providing clinical management at Donka isolation ward.

According to the latest figures, 157 people, including 101 deaths, have been infected with the Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea. As of today, sixty-six cases have been confirmed by laboratory analysis.

Spread across 6 districts of the country including Conakry, this Ebola outbreak represents a particular challenge that requires the mobilization of different resources from national and international partners to put in place the necessary response measures.

WHO has more than 50 people on the ground supporting the Ministry of Health and other partners to provide clinical management of patients, contact tracing, disease surveillance, laboratory work, logistics, as well as information-sharing and social mobilization and communication.

New outbreak management software developed by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is presently being updated with data from the field, and will soon be used as the primary database tool by all partners. The CDC software package Epi-Info aggregates various types of outbreak data into a single database that produces statistical and visual reports on the outbreak.

Ebola can have a case fatality rate of up to 90%, and is a severe acute viral illness. It is characterized by sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, nausea and sore throat. This can be followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

No vaccine is available, nor is there any specific treatment. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes, or intravenous fluids. 8 patients in Guinea have so far recovered.

Raising awareness of the risk factors for infection and the protective measures that should be taken is the only way to stop transmission and subsequent deaths.

Close unprotected physical contact with Ebola patients should be avoided and those who have died from the disease should be promptly and safely buried.

Source: APO

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Africa: Elections in Guinea-Bissau

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jen Psaki

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

April 9, 2014

The upcoming elections in Guinea-Bissau are an important step toward building a more stable, prosperous, democratic future for the Bissau-Guinean people. As the people of Guinea-Bissau go to the polls on April 13, we call on Bissau-Guinean authorities to create an environment that allows its citizens to express their will in peaceful, credible elections. At the same time, we encourage voters to participate fully in the democratic process and to make their voices heard peacefully. The United States remains a long-standing friend of the Bissau-Guinean people. We look forward to working with Guinea-Bissau as it seeks to return to democratic rule and to achieve lasting peace in the region.

Source: APO

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U.S. Delegation Supports Peace and Interreligious Cooperation in the Central African Republic

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

April 9, 2014

On Tuesday, April 8, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Rashad Hussain traveled to the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) with an interreligious delegation of leaders from the United States representing several faiths to demonstrate solidarity between religious communities in the U.S. and the people of the C.A.R.

The group met with C.A.R. religious leaders Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga, Imam Omar Kobine Layama, and Reverend Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou, who have actively come together in interfaith cooperation to promote religious tolerance and reconciliation in C.A.R.

Together, the U.S. and C.A.R. religious leaders met with the transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza to discuss promoting peace and reconciliation in C.A.R. They visited a mosque and the cathedral in Bangui and met with NGO representatives, UN agency officials, and members of civil society, including Seleka and anti-Balaka representatives, youth leaders, and officials of the transitional government.

Both sides agreed that further collaboration was needed to increase education and training on reconciliation and peacebuilding. The participants from CAR also signed a statement renouncing violence and encouraging intercommunity and inter-religious dialogue to mitigate tensions and lay the foundations for a new peaceful coexistence in C.A.R.

In addition to S.E. Hussain, the delegation included the U.S. Department of State’s Senior Advisor for C.A.R. David Brown, and religious leaders Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Imam Mohamed Magid, and Mr. Leith Anderson.

For more information about this trip, please contact AF-Press@state.gov.

Source: APO

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