The armed forces of Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda engaged in systematic violence against the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC). As part of that violence, approximately 2,000 HIV-positive Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers raped Congolese women and young girls in order to spread AIDS to the Congolese population. The DRC brought the complaint asserting, among other things, that the mass rape and deliberate infection of women and girls with HIV constituted a violation of human rights under the African Charter. The respondents did not deny the occurrence of mass rape and infection, but responded that "there is never group responsibility for violations" like rape. The Commission noted that the mass rape of women and girls as a tool of systematic violence violated article 76 of the first Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which provides that "[w]omen shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected in particular against rape, forced prostitution and any other forms of indecent assault" and also "offend[ed] the African Charter and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women." It therefore held that this offense violated articles 60 and 61 of the African Charter, which enable the African Commission to draw inspiration from international law on human and peoples' rights and take into consideration general principles of law, such as the humanitarian law principles contained in the Geneva Conventions. The Commission urged the respondent states to abide by their obligations under the African Charter and other applicable international and regional law and immediately withdraw their armed forces from the DRC. The Commission also requested that adequate reparations be paid to the DRC for and on behalf of the victims of the human rights violations.
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