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Congo women raped while job hunting

Published:Tuesday | May 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM


Angolan security forces have raped women and girls from neighbouring Congo who came to Angola's diamond fields in search of work, Human Rights Watch charged in a report yesterday.

The rights group said its investigators interviewed more than 100 victims and witnesses in 2009 and 2011, hearing story after story of "sexual violence, torture, and degrading and inhumane treatment." Most of the alleged abuse took place in grim detention facilities where migrants who entered Angola illegally are held before being expelled.

The Associated Press made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to reach Angolan Secretary of State for Human Rights Bento Bembe and two of his colleagues by phone for comment, but their phones went unanswered.

Angola has for years been conducting mass expulsions of foreign workers from its Cabinda enclave and diamond-rich Lunda Norte province. Concern about how Angola treats Congolese migrants has been raised before.

Last year, a special United Nations envoy, Margot Wallstrom, visited Angolan-Congolese border areas. After her visit, the Angolan government signed a communique with the United Nations in which it agreed to investigate allegations of rape and other abuse and ensure perpetrators were punished.