Newsier : . Nobel Peace Prize shared by two who help rape survivors in the midst of war

Dr. Denis Mukwege

Oct. 8, 2018 (GIN) – “For 15 years I have witnessed mass atrocities committed against women’s bodies and I cannot remain with my arms folded because our common humanity calls on us to care for each other.” Those were the words of Dr. Denis Mukwege, a physician working in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. Now, Dr. Mukwege, founder of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi survivor of sexual violence, are this year’s co-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Known as the rape surgeon, Dr. Mukwege has helped care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence even as he himself is at risk and attacks against women are on the upswing. “I’m sorry to say that three years ago the situation was better but now many armed groups are growing again and the number of women who are raped is increasing again,” Dr. Mukwege told the BBC. The 63-year-old Congolese gynecologist set up the Panzi hospital nearly 20 years ago, shortly after his first experience treating a woman who had been raped and mutilated by armed men. His crusading work has seen him honored on many occasions, receiving the Olof Palme Prize in 2009, the Sakharov Prize five years later, and the Seoul Peace Prize in 2016. He has been nominated for the Nobel award on numerous previous occasions. He has also been recognized by the United Nations, which he addressed in 2012, criticizing the Congolese government and neighboring countries for pursuing “an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war.” Panzi hospital now cares for more than 3,500 women a year. Sometimes Dr. Mukwege performs as many as 10 operations a day. It has grown to be a major health facility in eastern DR Congo with over 300 doctors, nurses and support staff. U.S. playwright Eve Ensler wrote: “He has not only saved lives, he has also travelled the world to bring attention to these women’s fate, everywhere from the UN to the European parliament to Washington DC. He – together with women survivors – has woken the world to the use of rape as a tactic of war and armed conflict in DRC and elsewhere.” “City of Joy,” a documentary which spotlights the survivors and Dr. Mukwege’s work, is available on Netflix.

Trump administration considers ending ‘conflict minerals’ BA

Children miners in Africa

Feb. 6, 2017 (GIN) – A rule requiring public companies to report their use of so-called “conflict minerals” from Congo may soon be eliminated.

The change under review by the Securities and Exchange Commission could benefit the armed groups that control many of the small mines and provide cover to multinational corporations who buy the resources often at cut rate prices – increasing the region’s potential for conflict.
Conflict resources include lumber, oil, diamond, gold, cobalt, oil, among others that are harvested through exploitation and terror during or after a conflict.

This week, newly appointed Republican acting chairman of the SEC, Michael Piwowar, called the rule “misguided,” saying there is little proof it has reduced conflict or eased humanitarian suffering in Congo. In addition, he said, it may be creating a “vacuum filled by those with less benign interests” that could undermine U.S. security interests. He ordered the SEC to review the regulation.

The SEC issued the rule in 2012 under the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. Public companies are required, under the law, to disclose information about their use of minerals from Congo in an effort to inhibit armed groups linked to atrocities who have profited from minerals used in electronics, jewelry and other goods.

Companies that use the designated minerals from Congo and neighboring countries in their products must report annually on their efforts to trace the so-called “conflict minerals” back to their sources. The regulators said stricter reporting requirements might help curb the violence in Congo and would make companies more accountable to shareholders.

Last May, at a Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains held in Paris, it was noted that states have an obligation under international law to take appropriate steps to protect people against human rights abuses by third parties such as companies. However, they report, “States are not meeting their commitment” to ensure that companies follow the rules.

A recent Amnesty International report sounded the alarm on a “blood mineral” mined by Congolese children as young as seven and used in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries found in laptops, smartphones and even electric cars.

The mineral is cobalt, and more than half of the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, including at least 20 percent which is mined by so-called “artisanal miners” in the southern part of the country. The report, titled “This Is What We Die For,” explains the conditions these miners work in:

“These artisanal miners, referred to as ‘creuseurs’ in the DRC, mine by hand using the most basic tools to dig out rocks from tunnels deep underground. Artisanal miners include children as young as seven who scavenge for rocks containing cobalt in the discarded by-products of industrial mines, and who wash and sort the ore before it is sold.”

“Our analysis shows that most companies seem to prefer business-as-usual to genuinely addressing the risk that their mineral purchases bankroll armed groups overseas,” said Carly Oboth, Policy Adviser at Global Witness.

“This is alarming. Well-funded industry groups have fought the conflict minerals law at every step. If companies had instead spent these resources on properly investigating and reporting on their supply chains, their customers would be more confident their goods were conflict free.”

The SEC has taken few public steps to administer the rule since 2015 and hasn’t pursued any enforcement action regarding it. In early 2016, it decided not to seek Supreme Court review of the Second Circuit decision that found elements of the rule to be unconstitutional.

For years, armed groups and criminal elements in the Central African nation have fed off the illicit trade of gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten, according to reports by a United Nations panel of experts.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, acclaimed Congolese surgeon and humanitarian, said: “Companies must do more to find out how the minerals they are buying have been produced and traded… They must show that they have put this right.”