Rwanda, Uganda Conscripted HIV-Positive Fighters to Spread HIV During War With D.R.C., Report Says
August 15, 2006
Rwanda and Uganda between 1998 and 1999 conscripted about 2,000 HIV-positive fighters to rape women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to spread the virus during their wars with the country, according to a report released by McMaster University professor Ed Mills and Johns Hopkins University professor Jean Nachega at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the Toronto Star reports. According to a 16-page, 1999 complaint filed by the D.R.C. government to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which is included in the report, "about 2,000 AIDS-suffering or HIV-positive Ugandan soldiers were sent to the front in the eastern province of Congo with the mission of raping girls and women so as to propagate an AIDS pandemic among the local population and, thereby, decimate it." Mills said children as young as age one were raped by the fighters. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be the first instance in which fighters purposely spread HIV, Mills said. Rwanda and Uganda have said the D.R.C. had no right to file a complaint with the commission. Mills said the evidence should encourage the newly formed African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights to hear the charges against Rwanda and Uganda (Westhead, Toronto Star, 8/14).
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