The Security Council has imposed sanctions including a travel ban and asset freeze on an army colonel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on charges of killing and maiming children, recruiting child soldiers, sexual violations and denial of humanitarian access.
Colonel Innocent Zimurinda has overseen multiple massacres of women and children, a mass rape of women and girls, arbitrary executions of child soldiers, a failure to release child soldiers and denial of humanitarian access, a senior United Nations rights official said.
“We have long been fighting to end impunity. The sanctions imposed today by the Security Council against an unrepentant violator of children is a welcome step forward,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy added, following Wednesday’s decision by the Council Committee tasked with monitoring sanctions on DRC.
“Every year we list armed groups who steal children from their homes, brainwash them and turn them into soldiers, those who deny humanitarian access to children, who attack schools and kill teachers, who sexually violate girls and boys and kill and maim children. Those listed by the Secretary-General now have a choice. Work with us to get off the list or face sanctions.”
The denial of humanitarian access refers to Col. Zimurinda’s refusal to allow the UN mission in the DRC to screen his troops to remove children from his ranks.
Ms. Coomaraswamy’s office has been working with the Council to add grave violations against children in conflict to their list of criteria for sanctions against individuals, and it called on the national army, know by its French acronym FARDC, to enter into an action plan with the UN for the release of child soldiers and for the removal of the many violators of children from its command.
On Monday, the Council extended for another year the arms embargo and other sanctions it imposed on the DRC.
Since 1999, the UN mission in the DRC, now known as MONUSCO, with over 19,000 uniformed personnel on the ground, has overseen the vast country’s emergence from years of civil war and factional chaos. But fighting has continued in the east, where the bulk of UN forces are deployed, with both rebel groups and sectors of FARDC accused of atrocities.