WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, June 24, 2016 – U.S Department of the Treasury, Press Release, 6/23/2016.
Action Targets Kinshasa Police Commissioner for Police Violence Against DRC Civilians
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned a Congolese government official, Céléstin Kanyama, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13413, as amended by Executive Order 13671, which authorizes the designation of persons for specified conduct “contributing to the conflict” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Specifically, OFAC designated Kanyama for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, the targeting of women, children, or any civilians through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, or forced displacement in the DRC, and for being a leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in such conduct. As a result of today’s actions, all assets of the individual designated that are based in the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him.
Today’s action is not directed at the people of DRC. It is intended to alter the behavior of individuals involved in violence against civilians. The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office reported that the beginning of 2015 was marred by “an increase in the number of violations of political rights and public freedoms” committed by DRC government agents, particularly by police. In several provinces, security forces violently repressed demonstrations organized to oppose a new draft electoral law that many feared would allow President Kabila to run for a third term. Clashes between police and protestors have continued this year.
“As President Kabila’s constitutionally limited term nears its end in December, the regime has engaged in a pattern of repression, including the arrest of opposition members and violent suppression of political protests, all to avoid scheduling national elections,” said John E. Smith, Acting OFAC Director. “Treasury’s action today sends a clear message that the United States condemns the regime’s violence and repressive actions, especially those of Céléstin Kanyama, which threaten the future of democracy for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
General Céléstin Kanyama is the Congolese National Police (PNC) Provincial police commissioner for Kinshasa. Under his leadership, police forces engaged in the targeting of civilian protestors through acts of violence.
Kanyama was the primary commander of Operation Likofi, a police operation between late 2013 and early 2014 that was set up to combat criminal delinquency in Kinshasa. However, the operation reportedly did not enforce the law in Kinshasa, but instead used unlawful violent tactics to establish a climate of fear. During this operation, Kanyama was responsible for extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. In raids across the city, uniformed police wearing black masks dragged suspects out of their homes at night at gunpoint with no arrest warrants. At least 50 young men and boys were reportedly killed, and over 30 were reported to be forcibly “disappeared” during the operation.
In January 2015, during Kanyama’s tenure as Kinshasa police commissioner, over 40 people were killed during demonstrations in Kinshasa, including at least 20 people fatally shot by security forces. The demonstrators were protesting proposed changes to the electoral law that many Congolese believed would permit President Joseph Kabila to stay in office beyond his mandated two-term limit.