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Archive for the tag “M23”

Opinion: Bosco aka the Terminator is now charged, but what about the big-men supporting him?

Today, the International Criminal Court sentenced warlord Bosco Ntaganda of 18 counts on crimes against humanity. This is a victory for the victims of his crimes and the things he did while being a general of militias within the Democratic Republic of Congo for years. However, even with him in the Hague, the sins his committed are still being done by someone else.

That is why the downfall of Bosco aka the Terminator haven’t had much affect. It isn’t like this has stopped militias from robbing, stealing, controlling, child-soldering and raping civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Because, the same ones that supported Bosco is still lingering around and have new henchmen to do their bidding. The same minerals are taken through the same routes to the same sort of illicit trade and securing that another warlord their cut. The only thing that changed was that Bosco went to Europe and had to testify in Court.

Just a friendly reminder of who he is: “Bosco Ntaganda was born in 1973 in Kinigi, which is a small village located in the Virunga mountains in Rwanda. Shortly after, his family moved to Ngugu in Masisi in North Kivu. In 1990, at the age of 17, Bosco Ntaganda joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebellion whose military wing was led by the current President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Bosco Ntaganda will then successively be used in the Rwandan army (1990-1995), AFDL (1996), RCD (1999), UPC (2003), CNDP (2003), the Congolese army (2004) and finally M23 (2012). He knows too much about Kagame’s organized crimes in the African Great Lakes region. Peace and security in this sub-region require first an end to impunity” (FDU-Inkingi – ‘The transfer of warlord Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court and the deployment of the special intervention brigade in Eastern DRC are two most priorities’ 22.03.2013).

So, its not like Bosco don’t have handlers behind him or had a support system for his tricks and trade. No, Bosco had a powerful ally, someone whose been meddling in the DRC for years. Someone who has sent his troops and earned fortunes on the minerals in the DRC, Mr. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Therefore, it is not like nobody was giving him weapons and letting him get rich of the spoils. It was the man who trained him and gave him the military education for later using him as a militia man in the DRC.

Just to put in more in perspective, Mondiaal nieuws reported: “But Ntaganda is of use to Kabila as well. Berwouts: ‘With the CNDP, Kabila won the support of the only power that could somewhat stabilize East Congo and moreover serves his electoral interests. In the run-up to the election, only Kabila was able to campaign in CNDP areas.’ What was not part of the agreement, is that the CNDP remained a state within a state, establishing a proper administration in Masisi and considered a threat rather than bringing security by large portions of the population. So Ntaganda is taking care of both Kagame’s and Kabila’s interests. That explains how he became a general of the Congolese army in 2009, in spite of the International Court of Justice issuing an arrest warrant against him three years earlier for crimes against humanity, mainly because of child soldier recruitment” (Stefano Valentino, John Vandaele & Anneke Verbraeken – ‘The killer king of North Kivu’ March 2012).

This shows the world how connected the Warlord and General was in his time. It wasn’t like he was in a vacuum doing his deeds. No, he was connected to Kagame and Kabila, they both endured and earned fortunes on his services. They accepted his crimes and promoted him for what he did. Therefore, it is striking that none of them had to pay for his crimes, but only him. Like he is the only one who committed this and did these acts.

We should wonder why Kagame and what he offered in return for the surrendering of Ntanganda. Why the ICC didn’t get Laurent Nkunda and others, whose become forgotten or not worthy criminals for the Courts. Surely, there must have been something for Kagame and Kabila to offer the Terminator to let him go and let him answer for these crimes. Because, surely, they didn’t want it all uncovered, especially they didn’t want their secret shady agreements done in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This would all stain their political future and also their standing among their peers. That is something, Kabila and Kagame couldn’t have. Therefore, without certainty, the leaders must have offered Bosco something in return, as he did rat them out and is now eating the charges. Peace.

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UN Report states that armed groups comes from destabilizing neighbouring countries into the DRC!

On ReliefWeb today, there was released a United Nations Security Council Report dated back to the 12th March 2019. What is vital about this report, is that what has been in the press and not been verified. Is not clearly stated in the print and reports of the United Nations. That is a very tough bargain, as the UNSC shouldn’t release reports, which is false or not verified by either its witnesses, its experts or its investigators. This is no in concern with the armed groups that is crossing into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from Uganda and Rwanda.

There been reports about the FDLR and Rwanda National Congress crossing into Uganda in December 2018, until now it hasn’t been verified. The UN is not saying why they crossed into the the DRC or where they came from, but the arrests and extradition was served to Rwanda. That is why, the previous reported stories in connections seems more likeable. We can wonder, why the UN didn’t verify the meetings in Kisoro, Uganda too, as it was in connection with the arrests being made in the DRC.

Alas, there are more, which is striking, because the language is dense, but still settling the score between the DRC towards the Uganda/Rwanda, who both are known for conning in the neighbour republic. They are stating it directly in this report, without no shadow of a doubt.

On 15 December, FARDC arrested the spokesperson and deputy head of intelligence of the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), and media sources reported their extradition to Rwanda in January. While the extradition and repatriation of disarmed FDLR combatants weakened the group, FDLR remained active. On 16 and 17 December, seven FARDC soldiers were reportedly killed in two separate attacks by suspected FDLR rebels. Military operations in December and January against an FDLR splinter group, Conseil national pour le renouveau et la démocratie-Ubwiyunge, forced the latter to abandon positions in North Kivu and move into South Kivu” (UN, 2019).

Participants called for continued cooperation among the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda to complete the repatriation of disarmed FDLR combatants and their dependants from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and of former M23 combatants and dependants from Rwanda and Uganda” (UN, 2019).

In furtherance of the second national commitment, namely, to “consolidate State authority, particularly in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, including to prevent armed groups from destabilizing neighbouring countries”, Congolese authorities closed FDLR transit camps in the east in November 2018 and repatriated 1,634 disarmed FDLR combatants and dependants, some of whom were previously detained, pursuant to a bilateral agreement with Rwanda” (UN, 2019).

During its fourth meeting, held on 24 January in Nairobi, the follow-up mechanism adopted a timetable for screening and sensitization missions to Uganda and Rwanda, to advance the repatriation of former M23 members, as well as a mission to Rwanda to monitor the reintegration of former FDLR combatants and their dependants. From 15 to 22 February, representatives of my Special Envoy, together with representatives of the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, the Expanded Joint Verification Mission and MONUSCO, visited camps hosting former M23 members in Rwanda and Uganda. Previously, from 11 to 13 February, the Office of my Special Envoy and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region had conducted an assessment visit to the headquarters of the follow-up mechanism on ADF, located in Kasese, Uganda. While the Democratic Republic of the Congo has deployed a representative to serve on the mechanism, the delayed contribution of personnel by participating States and logistical challenges continue to hamper the operations of the follow-up mechanism” (UN, 2019).

It is really significant that it comes within the paradigm of the tenseness between Rwanda and Uganda. That the UNSC releases this report this way, that its showing the FDLR, M23 among others. Which has gotten support from Uganda/Rwanda in the past, while doing their deeds in Eastern Congo. We can clearly wonder, why they verify it now and has this report for the Secretary-General of the UN.

Because, that means the UN is taking the situation seriously and needs to see action. As the destabilizing neighbours are continuing to persist in the region, as well as it didn’t state. Cross over into themselves and create issues there. Like the MRCD or parts of the ex-FDLR are doing together with the RNC.

It is really significant what was compiled in this, by all means the connections and even the stated wording of it. That the states even hamper with the operations of the follow-up mechanism. Shows, there is clear intent from the parties, to continue to destabilizing the DRC.

Surely, someone will torn by this report. Peace.

Reference:

United Nations Security Council – ‘Implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region – Report of the Secretary-General’ (12.03.2019)

UN Experts Report expose illegal Gold Export to Uganda!

Again and again, the UN Experts are getting validated sources of mineral exports, which are ending up in the hands of the Gold Refinery in Entebbe, Uganda and ending in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. These stories continues, as the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and President Museveni are taking advantage of the lack of authorities and control of the borders. That is why the Ugandan can get the illicit gold and earn fortunes of the trade.

They are forging documents and doing so by tricking customs and ways. To ensure, the gold goes from Bukavu to Entebbe into the hands of the AGR. The company, which happens to run by Gen. Salim Selah, the brother of the President. The State House of Uganda is earning fortunes on the illicit trade of gold and forging the gold sources even.

Take a look:

In addition, the Group found that Ugandan authorities lacked a coherent policy to combat smuggling. The Group also found that Kampala-based gold exporters did not have an efficient system to avoid the contamination of their supply chains with illegally traded gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (…) “In fact, documents concerning a supplier for AGR obtained by the Group show the risk of contamination of the supply chain with gold illegally sourced or traded from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The supplier, a Congolese national based in Bukavu who provided AGR, in October 2018, with gold worth more than $3 million, travelled with an official document, delivered five months earlier, identifying his occupation as that of an electrician. The supplier declared to AGR that the gold was sourced from the United Republic of Tanzania. Initial investigations conducted by the Group suggested that the individual was used as a broker by many Bukavu-based gold smugglers” (UNSC, 2018).

We have seen these stories before, its still vital and important to show, yet more evidence of the illegal export and illicit trading of the Congolese gold through Ugandan exporters, which happens to be in connection with the President and his brother Gen. Selah. This is common knowledge, but has to be addressed. As the ownership of the AGR is known and also, how that implicates the State House.

This is just a few statements of what they do, but still enough to prove how they do it. As this is very fresh reports and just out from the UNSC and their experts. Peace.

Reference:

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – ‘Letter dated 18 December 2018 from the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council’ (31.12.2018)

Jajja says War is Wasteful: Why is your CV filled with Military Enterprises then?

War is wasteful. You have lost a lot of development time. In 2005 during the interim period, Juba was a very small town near the river. Now it has grown wide. If we had not had this war between 2013 – 2015, there would have been even greater development. Make covenant like the one Israel made with God. No war to solve political arguments between brothers and sisters. Political arguments can be solved by discussions or free and fair elections. It is ideologically incorrect to use war for an argument. Also make sure state institutions are national to build peoples confidence” – Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on the 31st October 2018 at the Peace Celebration in Juba, South Sudan.

I have heard time believe the audacity the Ugandan President had yesterday, the man who has built a career and made sure, everyone knows. It is a reason why the Uganda People’s Defence Force is involved with all sorts of business, aside of warfare. They are parts of NAADs, SACCOs, NEC and so on. Nothing the army doesn’t do. UPDF infuse everywhere and has done so, since the NRA/NRM took power in 1986.

The war-sheet I have made of Museveni is striking and certainly lacks the finer details. But it gives the gist of the peace-maker and peace-loving dude, the farmer of the State House and the all-round Cattle-Keeper are up too. Jajja or Mzee, even Bosco knows this and cannot be that forgetful. Even if he is getting advanced age. He steadily been parts of wars, supported them and even using his force in battlefields as we speak. Therefore, we he calls wars a waste, he has built a career on it. None denying that. If you do. Check his record. Read a few books and get back to me.

Museveni’s Gist Warrior CV:

1979 ( Uganda National Liberation Army) Overthrow President Idi Amin together with President Nyerere and Dr. Milton Obote.

1980-1986 (National Resistance Army) Bush-War against Obote

1986 – 2006 Northern Insurgency and civil-war in Northern Uganda against the Lord Resistance Army (LRA)

1993-1994 UPDF Supports the Rwandan Patriotic Army in the Rwandan Genocide and the overthrow of the Juvénal Habyarimana.

1996-1997 First Congo War – UPDF and RPA invades Democratic Republic of Congo to overthrow Mobutu Sese Seko.

August 1998 – July 2003 Second Congo War – UPDF and RPA assassinate Laurent-Desire Kabila. Joseph Kabila his son takes power after him.

March 2007 – Until Now: UPDF as part of the AMISOM Mission in Somalia

2011 – 2017 African Union Regional Task Force supported by the USA to use UPDF to hunt for the LRA and Kony in the Central African Republic (C.A.R).

2013-2015 UPDF fights in the civil-war in support of South Sudan President Salva Mayardit Kiir.

2017 – Until Now: Deployment and Training of Soldiers in Equatorial Guinea

Side Projects:

Supporting arms to MLC, M23 and other militias within the DRC at various points of time. Kisoro, Mbarara and Kabale military bases for arms and training.

Military training of personnel and trading arms to South Sudan, even during UN Arms Embargo.

Allegedly Supported Nkurunziza with battalions and helicopters during the Burundi Crisis in 2015.

When you see this list, you get the feeling right. Here is not even casualties, the internally displaced, the refugees or the famines created. There is neither the export of conflict minerals or any of the misgivings, the possible assassinations of high ranking officials, the political play to be the king-maker within the Great Lakes Region and the East Africa Community. Something President Yoweri Museveni always was be. He wants loyal men to himself and his reign to in the neighborhood. That is why he has involved himself in Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and South Sudan. He has had twist into everything.

Therefore, it is rich reading that he said this yesterday in Juba, South Sudan. It is noble thought of the old-man. But it didn’t come from the right person. It should come from someone who hasn’t used military force to get his will and get power. Neither to overthrow and start wars in other countries too. President Museveni is that guy and not only waited for International Recognition, before sending troops somewhere in favor of someone he wants to be in power. That is just what the man does. He easily sends troops if it benefits him.

Enough of this nonsense. Enough of these bullets. Peace.

Opinion: What are they up to? Kuteesa and Kagame had a meeting in Kigali today.

There are reasons for why there is easy to speculate about the meetings and the secrecy of the ones involved. As there are only one official story. That Foreign Affairs Minister of Uganda, Sam Kuteesa brought a Special Message to Rwandan President Paul Kagame. We don’t more from this meeting, as it not recorded or transcribed. There are no record or no protocol. That is why we know so little about this. Just like we know little about the meeting last week between Kuteesa and Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa. 

The little we know from official Ugandan sources today is this: “Hon. Kutesa delivered a special message from President Yoweri Museveni to his counterpart. Mr. Kutesa had earlier met with Dr Richard Sezibera and congratulated him upon his recent appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community. They discussed issues of bilateral interest and pledged to work closely to broaden and deepen cooperation between Uganda and Rwanda” (Uganda Media Centre – ‘Hon. Kutesa delivers special message to President Kagame’ 25.10.2018).

We really don’t know what the cooperation or that Special Message was about, even if it was involving their mutual business and exports of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Who knows right? Because there is no official communique, there are no minutes or protocol from this meeting. Even no statement of intent. The parties have been silent about it and the only message from Uganda is practically saying nothing.

Why I am thinking like this, it is only a week ago, this was the message from the meeting in Kinshasa between Kabila and Kuteesa:

Also, he reassured the military leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda will use this meeting to solve the problems on Lake Albert to restore peace and security, and to allow the people of both countries to freely and peacefully conduct their fishing” (MediaCongo.net – ‘Un message spécial de Yoweri Museveni remis au Président Joseph Kabila Kabange’ 19.10.2018)

Whatever Kagame or Kuteesa was scheming isn’t easy to know, as the interests are there and they have all profited from the insecurity and the lack of building institutions and political stability in the region. Kuteesa could also ensure they are ready for action with Kabila.

We can wonder as the DRC are scheduled an election in December. That a new form of militia will appear “out-of-nowhere” from these nations to destabilize either in Ituri, South Kivu and North Kivu even more if they get lucky. That wouldn’t be surprising if there is coming weapons from Kisoro or Gisenyi in the coming future. If it would be familiar faces from FDLR/CNDP/M23 coming out of the wood-works too. That wouldn’t be shocking (!!). To create enough insecurity, so that the Democratic Republic of Congo has to postpone the elections again.

Because that would seem likely, as a major insecurity and use of militias to create troubles within the Kivu’s and Ituri. Would give Kabila a reason for even launching a “State of Emergency” and relinquish all power until it is over. Hence, stopping the need of the two year long postponement of election. As he is on overtime in his role the President. No one would complain if he had to fight a civil war to stay in power, especially not foreign sponsored ones from former allies. That he happen to meet just in mere weeks before they assembled on Kisangani, Bukavu and Goma. I wouldn’t be shocked if that is the next step.

At this moment, it is just my wild thoughts, which sadly enough isn’t far fetched. As there are enough of freed former militia men walking about and such. Right now this is just my mere speculations, as there are no official statement/communique/document from the meeting in Kigali today and nothing from the one in Kinshasa. But these gentlemen tries to keep thing low-key, but at a later date. It suddenly explodes. If there would be weird activity in Kabale, Rwenzori or in Gisenyi in the coming weeks. I wouldn’t be directly shocked. As the timing is perfect to secure a “valid” reason to postpone the election and ensure a new “process” for yet another election. Because Kabila feed of the insecurity and needs it. Since he has no legitimate power and kills of the activists and the sends the political operatives that matters into exile. Peace. 

BTW: I hope I am terrible wrong and out of line. That these meetings means they enjoyed some posho/ugali in each others company and served high quality tea afterwards. But there are often a reason for these meetings. I just start bugging when I don’t know why!

The Sentry’s new report have been digging into the export of conflict Gold to the Gold Refinery in Entebbe!

The conflict gold trade sustains ruthless armed groups such as the FDLR and Congolese army units that commit mass atrocities, sexual violence, and other human rights abuses against the population of eastern Congo. It is critical that actors in the international community, especially global banks that trade gold and the consumers of gold, know the origins of the precious metal they are buying. More importantly, governments and companies need to take action against the corporate networks that traffic conflict gold and move it into the global economy” (The Sentry, P: 20, 2018)

Just as the Global Witness Report of June 2017 named “Under Mined” and United Nations Security Council Report from June 2018 named “Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. Today, the Sentry launched today the report named “The Golden Laundromat”. They are all digging into the illegal and sinister gold trade of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the possible money laundering scheme of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his brother Gen. Salim Selah. Who is both invested in this operation.

This report is again stating the fact and the reality with this trade. As the Sentry is proving new perspective to the matter. These being their analysis of the documentation of the operation and more into the Goetz business practices, which are vital for the export of these conflict minerals. They are showing the trail from the fields and mines in the DRC to the World Market.

Here is some quotes, which I think was worth taking a minute to digest:

According to interviews conducted and documents obtained by The Sentry, there is a significant risk that AGR sources conflict gold from eastern Congo, and that it imports illegally exported artisanal gold mined in eastern Congo. In 2017, according to documents reviewed by The Sentry, AGR refined and exported 9.3 tons of gold, although the company says it exported 7.7 tons. Several people involved in the trade of Congolese gold with direct knowledge of AGR’s operations told The Sentry that the company sources gold from conflict-affected parts of eastern Congo. Two prominent gold smugglers in eastern Congo acknowledged they sold illegally mined and trafficked gold to AGR from 2016-18, which two South Kivu-based traders confirmed” (The Sentry, P: 8, 2018).

Furthermore, there is at least reason to suspect that AGR buys gold. Trade insiders told The Sentry that AGR buys gold, and Goetz reportedly decides on the price paid to traders, as well as arranging terms and scheduling of payment. Ugandan export records indicate that AGR exports gold: it exported 9.3 tons of gold in 2017, although AGR says it exported 7.7 tons. Goetz’s original AGR project proposal sent to President Museveni in 2014 calls into question the company’s commitment to due diligence. In the document, Goetz, on behalf of Tony Goetz NV, states that AGR should attract gold from the region and that any gold traders who do not have official documents should be allowed to sell gold to AGR but pay a $500 penalty” (…) “From Uganda, AGR’s gold flows to other Goetz-controlled companies in Dubai. The DMCC was scheduled to audit another company in the Goetz network, Tony Goetz NV, in 2017, but no new audit report has been published. Despite the lack of an updated audit, Tony Goetz NV remains a Dubai Good Delivery (DGD) member today. It had passed the DMCC’s audit on responsible practices in 2015 based on its 2014 activities – before AGR was launched” (The Sentry, P: 13, 2018).

According to documents reviewed by The Sentry, Goetz sought the intercession of President Museveni in 2014 in order to gain a 10-year tax break for AGR. Three years later, that became a reality when President Museveni announced a pending zero percent tax rate essentially benefitting only AGR. This, in turn, potentially relates to a fourth FATF AML red flag that is applicable to the Goetz network: registration of a trading company in a tax haven even though its business relates to another jurisdiction. While Uganda is not a traditional tax haven, as a practical matter, it presently serves as one for gold refining since Uganda changed its tax structures on gold to attract gold companies” (The Sentry, P: 17, 2018).

What we are seeing as some would be shocked, other would see the deliberate action of the President to support and earn of the illegal gold trade, also ensure the business in Uganda. That the DRC can be used and illegally export the gold, where the business-partner are acting on behalf of the President that has made the arrangement for the refinery in Uganda. This has been done, while also giving AGR a tax-holiday, so that the production will not be taxed and neither able to follow ordinary customs. That means the President and brother together with Goetz knows perfectly well what happens from the DRC to the World Market. They are earning fortunes on the illegal gold trade and is single-handed securing the profits because of it.

The Sentry has done great work collecting the documentation for this and proving their allegations. As others has done to of late. They have extended their work and shown more meat to the bones. Making it a juicy stake. That is showing the acts of violence and killings in the DRC are benefiting the Ugandan President to this day. He is earning wealth on the misery of the Kivu’s, as they by doing this trade keeping up the in-security there. So, that the illegal gold trade can persist… and linger on.

President Museveni knows this and blames the MONUSCO still for being there to long. But his reach and his hands are in the cookie jar. As it has been since he supported Laurent Kabila to overthrow Mobutu. Peace.

Reference:

The Sentry – ‘The Golden Laundromat – The Conflict Gold Trade from Eastern Congo to the United States and Europe’ October 2018

RDC: Communique de Presse (09.07.2018)

RDC: CLC – Le Peuple Congolais Revendique Haut et Fort son Droit a des Elections Credibles (07.07.2018)

 

Human Rights council discusses situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (05.07.2018)

The committee appealed to government, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders and community organisations to join hands against this scourge that is plaguing our society.

PRETORIA, South Africa, July 5, 2018 – The committee was made aware of the weaknesses and strengths within Sapo and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) before this process was implemented. Because weaknesses in the implementation of the payment process are now becoming manifest, the committee wants to revisit the roadmap that Sapo presented to the committee and to hear about the progress Sapo has made in its checklist for disbursements.

Such weaknesses include, among other things, long queues, stampedes in post offices, the inability of staff to cope with large numbers of people and the unavailability of enough cash in most areas. This is why the committee wants to understand how far both entities are in working together to ensure that grants are disseminated successfully in future.

The committee has also urged Sassa to improve the way it communicates with South Africans and to do so timeously, particularly when challenges are anticipated. The committee urges Sassa to ensure that frontline staff dealing directly with the public are kind and courteous.

The committee also believes that Sassa should consider alternative ways of using a pin number to access the social grants. It has transpired through provincial reports that a lot of grant beneficiaries, particularly the elderly, easily forget their pin numbers and there was no support system, as had been promised before implementation.

The scourge of sexual assault on children was also before the committee at today’s meeting. Some of the Chapter 9 institutions attending the meeting suggested that poor coordination is failing these vulnerable groups. The committee resolved to ask the Minister of Social Development to take up the matter with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of Government Business. This serious social challenge requires a response from government, particularly from within the Department of Social Development, which should champion this response.

The committee also sent sincere condolences to all families whose loved ones passed away as a result of a sexual assault. The committee appealed to government, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders and community organisations to join hands against this scourge that is plaguing our society.

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: “Enhanced interactive dialogue on the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (03.07.2018)

3 July 2018

Distinguished President
Members of the International Team of experts,
Excellencies,

This interactive dialogue on the Democratic Republic of the Congo is both timely and important. The human rights situation remains of great concern across the country. The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office has documented an increased number of violations: 2,858 from January to May this year, as compared to 2,332 during the same period in 2017 – and the real scale of violations is certainly even greater.

The security situation continues to deteriorate in several regions across the country, with dramatic impact on civilians.

I remain particularly concerned about the violence in South and North Kivu, and in the Kasai regions, with increasing activity by Nyatura and other Mayi-Mayi armed groups in North Kivu, as well as a Mayi-Mayi coalition led by William Yakutumba that is particularly active in South Kivu and, more recently, in the province of Maniema.

Interethnic and intercommunity violence has also continued in Ituri province between members of the Hema and Lendu communities, resulting in deaths, the burning of villages, and mass displacement. Recently deployed army troops are also alleged to have committed human rights violations, particularly targeting the Lendu community.

The situation in the Kasai regions is also deeply preoccupying, with severe abuses against civilians by armed groups, and multiple human rights violations committed by Congolese defence and security forces in their response to the activities of these militias. You will be appraised of the findings of the team of international experts dispatched by my Office in line with the Council’s Resolution 35/33. In this context, I would like to note that further to Resolution 35/33, my Office has also assisted the military authorities’ investigation in the Kasai regions, with two missions by forensic, judicial and witness protection experts.

Mr President,

These and other conflicts continue to drive very large numbers of people away from their homes and livelihoods – further deepening their vulnerability to violations, particularly in the case of women and children. According to OCHA, there are now 4.4 million internally displaced people in the DRC.

I strongly urge the authorities to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in all the conflict zones, namely Bas-Uélé, Haut-Uélé, South and North Kivu, Maniema, Tanganyika and the Kasai regions.  I further urge much stronger efforts to hold the perpetrators of violations responsible. The perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence must also be held to account – even, and perhaps especially, when they are agents of the State.

Members of the Congolese armed forces, or FARDC, appear to have been responsible for fully one third of the violations and abuses, including sexual violence, which the UN Joint Human Rights Office has documented across all the conflict zones since the beginning of the year. These crimes do not only harm their victims: they damage the credibility of the authorities responsible for protection, inciting people to create or join irregular self-defence groups. I urge the Government to undertake the necessary measures to ensure the prosecution of perpetrators of these human rights violations. Effective justice will be a deterrent to prevent future violations by members of the military.

I note that in recent months there has been some limited progress in establishing accountability for past violations. In April, a Lieutenant Colonel was sentenced by the South Kivu military tribunal to a 20-year prison term for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including sexual slavery, as well as pillage and attacks on civilians, committed between 2005 and 2007.

Mr President,

I am also deeply troubled by numerous violations of human rights norms and principles in relation to people’s rights to participate in the democratic space. This persistent trend raises serious doubts about the credibility of the DRC’s long-delayed elections, which are now due to take place on 23 December 2018.

Regrettably, there has been no progress in implementing the confidence-building measures laid out in the 31 December 2016 political agreement, including respect for the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly, the release of all political prisoners, and accountability for human rights violations. The alleged perpetrators of violations, including those who have used disproportionate force to suppress demonstrations, continue to benefit from widespread impunity, undermining public trust in commitments made by the Government.

As requested, my Office has provided technical advice to the national commission of inquiry set up by the Government in response to the brutal attacks which took place during protests in December 2017 and January 2018. The report of the commission, which was released in March, concluded that members of the police and army committed human rights violations, including excessive use of force. It formulated a number of very pertinent recommendations, notably lifting the ban on public demonstrations, and restrictions on use of the military during demonstrations. I regret that to date most of these recommendations have not been implemented and that the consolidated report was transferred to the Ministry of Justice only last week.

Despite verbal commitments by the Minister of Human Rights to lift the ban on public demonstrations, the authorities continued to prohibit or repress activities organized by civil society and opposition parties. In March, April and May, my Office documented 61 violations of the right to freedom of assembly. For example, on 19 May, in Kindu, Maniema province, the launch of the opposition platform Ensemble pour le changement was banned by local authorities, although the President’s political party organised two public demonstrations in Kindu that same month without impediment.

Intimidation of human rights activists and journalists has intensified, with many suffering regular threats to their lives and families. Multiple cases of arbitrary arrests and detention by the security forces continue to be documented by UNJHRO. Lengthy incommunicado detentions by intelligence services, without judicial review, are another matter of great concern and should be prohibited.

Moreover, legislation currently in preparation appears to be intended to further restrict public freedoms and the role of civil society in the DRC. These bills include a draft law on terrorism; a draft law on the protection and responsibilities of human rights defenders, which is currently before Parliament; and a draft law regulating the work of non-profit organizations. I strongly encourage Members of Parliament to refrain from adopting laws which fail to comply with the people’s human rights.

Mr President,

Landmark elections are approaching in a context characterised by continued restrictions of rights and freedoms, and a shrinking democratic space. The Government should be encouraged to prevent further erosion of the rights of the Congolese people at this crucial time, and to fully implement its commitments under the 31 December 2016 agreement, including the release of all political prisoners.

Measures to uphold human rights will also address many root causes of the conflicts now raging in the DRC, which have led to one of the continent’s largest caseloads of displaced people. Both national security and international security can only be obtained when individual security and rights are respected.

The work of the Office, through technical cooperation and monitoring, brings vital assistance to the authorities, including in the electoral process. We stand ready to provide further necessary support to the government to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people.

Thank you Mr President.

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