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The Just Gold project is the first to successfully trace conflict-free and legal artisanal gold from mine site to export applying regional and international standards.
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 17, 2017 – Partnership Africa Canada (PACweb.org) today announced the Just Gold project has successfully implemented a system to trace legal and conflict-free artisanal gold in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Just Gold project began as a pilot in Ituri Province in 2015. Today’s announcement is a milestone for the project—moving it from the pilot stage—having proven a successful chain of custody from mine site to exporter.
“After almost two years of testing the Just Gold project with an aim to develop a chain of custody and due diligence system for artisanal gold in DRC, we are excited to share news of our success,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director.
“The Just Gold project can now move from a period of testing to implementation and ensuring we have a long-term, sustainable and viable solution for traceable, legal and conflict-free exports of artisanal gold from Congo,” said Lebert. “We look forward to sharing our lessons learned with key actors and to deepening our collaboration with the DRC Government.”
The Just Gold project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by offering fair and transparent pricing and by providing capacity-building, such as technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and offered Juts Gold project equipment, in return for which any gold produced must be tracked and sold through legal channels.
“Proving that artisanal gold in eastern Congo can be conflict-free, legal and traceable is a major step in responsible sourcing efforts in the Great Lakes region. The government of Democratic Republic of Congo is taking major strides in complying with regional standards and demonstrating how the implementation the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains can contribute to progressive improvements in the sector, supporting artisanal gold men and women miners to enter international markets,” said Lebert.
Partnership Africa Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Mines Martin Kabwelulu on September 2016, outlining support for the organization’s activities to strengthen natural resource governance. Specifically, the Ministry of Mines recognized the Just Gold project as a system of traceability and encouraged its implementation. Partnership Africa Canada has provided technical support to the Ministry since 2011.
Current activities in DRC include the Just Gold project, capacity building to implement both the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) Regional Certification Mechanism (RCM) and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance applicable to high-value minerals, as well as support to civil society for monitoring and reporting on supply chain integrity.
Partnership Africa Canada has also undertaken research and analysis of the artisanal gold supply chain to understand women’s roles in the sector. Through sensitization and outreach, the Just Gold project improves awareness of women’s rights, and their right to access, control and benefit of resources. The project also supports and fosters women’s leadership opportunities through skills-building and training.
Partnership Africa Canada’s work in DRC developed from its engagement as a technical partner to the ICGLR, providing capacity-building to implement the six tools developed by the ICGLR’s Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources.
Funding for the Just Gold project and Partnership Africa Canada’s work in the Great Lakes region is provided by Global Affairs Canada. Additional funding for the Just Gold project is provided by USAID through the Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade (CBRMT) project and International Organization for Migration.
The newest report from Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) together with United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) dropped a report about Human Rights violations this October. These shows the violations of human rights, killings and rapes that have happen over a certain time period. The reports themselves say enough about the extent of how the Government and their Security Organizations does, plus the guerrilla warfare and the results of that in the DRC.
The reports are vivid and direct from political prisoners to rape incidence… the words themselves of what they did to the civilians there. Take a look!
“Initiatives and public advocacy conducted by the Congolese authorities, with the support of the international community, have resulted in the conviction of State agents for sexual violence in conflict in at least 231 cases, during the period under review. Also, according to information made available to the UNJHRO, at least 447 soldiers of the Congolese National Army (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo – FARDC) and 155 agents of the Congolese National Police (Police nationale congolaise – PNC) have been convicted for acts constituting human rights violations during the period under analysis. Despite the remarkable efforts made and considering the structural and financial difficulties facing the judicial system, this is a very low number compared to the 4,032 human rights violations committed by State agents. This, in addition to other factors, also shows that lack of effective prosecution contributes to the commission of other violations” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P: iv, 2016).
Conflict Areas of Congo:
“During the reporting period, the six provinces affected by the conflict in eastern DRC, namely Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Haut-Uélé, Bas-Uélé and Tshopo provinces registered the highest numbers of 5 human rights violations and abuses, which were mainly committed by combatants of more than 30 different armed groups. Between 1 January 2014 and end of March 2016, among the armed groups, the combatants of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) committed the largest number of abuses (685), followed by the Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) (662) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) (424). These abuses were mainly committed during attacks launched on villages, in a bid to control territories rich in natural resources or in reprisal against some individuals suspected of cooperating with parties to the conflict” (…) “. State actors have also committed human rights violations in eastern DRC, in particular FARDC soldiers and PNC agents. These State actors, mainly FARDC soldiers, committed human rights violations or violations of international humanitarian law during military operations against armed groups” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P:4-5, 2016).
“In the current electoral context, concern has been expressed in relation to actions taken by the judiciary and viewed as Government interference in the justice system. For example, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders expressed concern about “the arbitrary detention of three human rights defenders, Mr Fred Bauma Winga, Mr Christopher Ngoy Mutamba and Mr Yves Makwambala, which seem to be related to their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities” as well as “allegations of illegal obtaining of evidence, procedural flaws and unfair trials”. The Special Rapporteur further “voiced his concern at the difficult situation in which human rights defenders exercise their right to freedom of association, of peaceful assembly, of opinion and expression, in the DRC” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P:9, 2016).
“Weaknesses in the penitentiary system have been raised on multiple occasions during 2015 Etats généraux de la justice, and identified as a major obstacle to the fight against impunity. The UNJHRO has documented the escape of 2,604 people from detention centres in 2014 and 201526. Mass escapes take place on a regular basis throughout the countr” (…) “One illustrating example is the mass escape of 18 October 2014 of 326 out of the 433 detainees (130 condemned persons and 196 people in preventive detention) from the prison of Butembo, North Kivu province, following an attack on the prison by four men armed with AK-47 trying to free nine detained soldiers who turned out to be absent from the prison. To this day, only about a hundred of those escaped persons have been found” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P: 10, 2016).
“From 1 October to 31 December 2014, at least 237 people – including 65 women and 35 children – were killed by suspected ADF combatants. At least 47 civilians were wounded, 20 were abducted and two were victims of sexual violence. During this period, suspected ADF elements have attacked at least 35 villages, using machetes, hammers and knives, amongst others, and carrying out summary executions of civilians. During the same period, the UNJHRO also documented the destruction and looting of houses. From 28 February 2016 to March 2016, civilians were targeted by suspected ADF combatants in several villages on both sides of the border between North Kivu and Ituri, in Bambuka-Kisiski (Beni territory, North Kivu province) and Bandavilemba (Irumu territory, Ituri province)” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P: 12, 2016).
FARDC rape in Goma 2012:
“In November 2012, after the capture of Goma by the M23 armed group, FARDC soldiers withdrew to Minova, in South Kivu province, where they committed mass rapes and other human rights violations during a period of 10 days. On 5 May 2014, the Military Operational Court of North Kivu delivered its verdict on this case and sentenced 26 FARDC soldiers to prison terms ranging from three years to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. Thirteen other soldiers have meanwhile been acquitted” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P 14, 2016).
“From 20 to 22 September 2015, FARDC soldiers assigned to 33071st Battalion under the leadership of Colonel Jules Dhenyo Beker reportedly committed several human rights violations in Musenyi village, in the vicinity of Maibano, Kalehe territory, South Kivu province, during an operation to track down Rayia Mutomboki chief Mweke Atobaibwa. Civilians were arrested and taken to a school used by the military operation’s leadership. A 16-week old baby reportedly died following a beating. Nineteen women were raped (or gang-raped in some cases), 31 people were subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatments and arbitrary arrests while 78 others were subjected to looting and/or extortions. The next day, a high ranking FARDC official reportedly visited the scene of the incident and ordered the population not to report what had happened” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P: 32, 2016).
“Since May 2013, at least 20 children under 12 and thirty children aged between 12 and 17 have reportedly been abducted, raped and subjected to genital mutilations in Kavumu, 35 km from Bukavu, in the groupement of Bugorhe, Kabare territory, South Kivu province. The victims were reportedly abducted in their sleep without any witness and returned home or near their residence after being raped or mutilated. According to judicial authorities, these crimes were reportedly perpetrated in the context of initiation rituals and fetishist practices. Reportedly, these rapes and abductions also sought to terrorize the local population. On 17 March 2016, in Kavumu, a human rights defender who had spoken out on cases of rape against children in Kavumu and denounced the implication of a local leader, as well as the inaction of judicial authorities, was summarily executed by armed men wearing PNC uniforms.” (OHCHR/MONUSCO, P: 33, 2016).
For the ones that hasn’t followed the nation, the FARDC and the Guerrillas in the DRC will this be eye-opening, for others this is old news. Still, the reports prove certain aspects of life in regions and parts of DRC… This is more to show the dirty and nitty gritty that too many civilians and people of the DRC have lived through. This is what you can call a stern warning that people should care about the senseless violence against humanity in the DRC. Peace.
OHCA/MONUSCO – ‘Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the DRC: Achievements, Challenges and Way forward’ (1 January 2014 – 31 March 2016) – October 2016