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Democratic Republic of the Congo defence and security forces committed serious human rights violations in December 2016 (01.03.2017)

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According to the report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office of MONUSCO (UNJHRO), at least 40 people, including five women and two children, were killed between 15 and 31 December 2016 across several cities of the DRC, among them Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Boma and Matadi.

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 1, 2017 -Defence and security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo used excessive, disproportionate and at times lethal force to prevent and contain demonstrations in December 2016, a UN report published today has found.

According to the report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office of MONUSCO (UNJHRO), at least 40 people, including five women and two children, were killed between 15 and 31 December 2016 across several cities of the DRC, among them Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Boma and Matadi.

The findings of the UNJHRO investigation show that 28 individuals were killed by soldiers of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), six by agents of the Police Nationale Congolaise (PNC) and the remaining six during joint PNC and FARDC operations. All but two of the victims were killed by live ammunition.

During the same period, at least 147 individuals were injured by State agents, including 14 women and 18 children, and at least 917 individuals, including 30 women and 95 children, were arrested by defence and security forces. The report also notes that some protesters carried out acts of violence, including the killing of at least one PNC agent in Kinshasa on 20 December 2016.

The report indicates that most of the victims were unarmed civilians wounded by live ammunition on upper parts of the body, suggesting an excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces in operations to contain the demonstrations.

“Such serious incidents are worrisome, particularly in the current context. The Government bears the primary responsibility to implement the confidence-building measures provided for under the 31 December 2016 Global and Inclusive Political Agreement to defuse tensions and create an environment conducive to the holding of peaceful elections. MONUSCO will continue to support efforts by the Government to achieve these objectives, including through investigation and strong sanction for all those responsible for serious human rights violations,” said Maman Sambo Sidikou, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC.

“MONUSCO remains committed to accompanying the DRC towards peaceful, credible and inclusive elections,” Sidikou stressed.

The report also condemns the fact that while the PNC is normally in charge of crowd control operations, during the period under review, FARDC soldiers, including those of the Republican Guard and of the Military Police, were deployed to control crowds, functions for which they are not adequately equipped nor trained. The lack of accountability for past human rights violations, including those committed during the demonstrations in Kinshasa on 19 and 20 September 2016, may have encouraged a sense of impunity, and defence and security forces to commit further violations in December 2016.

“Once again we see serious human rights violations being committed blatantly and with complete impunity by the security forces, who employed excessive use of force against unarmed demonstrators, in flagrant violation of international human rights law and standards,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

“I urge the Government to ensure that those responsible for such violations committed in the context of events that marked the end of President Joseph Kabila’s second constitutional mandate are held accountable and brought to justice.  Measures should also be taken, at all levels, to ensure that the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms by the population will not lead to loss of lives and other serious rights violations,” Zeid said.

“I therefore call on the DRC Government to urgently adopt the law on freedom of peaceful protests and the law on human rights defenders. This is hugely important for the coming months as the DRC should move towards implementing the 31 December political agreement and preparing for the next presidential election,” Zeid stressed.

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RDC: “Les députés nationaux de l’Ituri membres du PPRD suspendent leurs cotisations & s’en prennent à Amb. Henri Mova” (26.12.2016)

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Accountability for killings of protesters vital, Zeid says, as DRC crisis continues (23.12.2016)

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GENEVA (23 December 2016) – Reports that dozens of people have been killed by police and soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past few days are deeply troubling and point to growing instability in the country, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday.

Over the past week, the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO) has documented at least 40 killings of civilians in Kinshasa, Lumbumbashi, Boma and Matadi, mainly of people protesting against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the official end of his mandate on 19 December. Some 107 people have been injured or ill-treated and there have been at least 460 arrests.

“Such high casualty figures suggest a serious disregard by the various police, defence and security forces of the need to exercise restraint in policing demonstrations. Not only are soldiers participating in law enforcement operations, but all the forces involved are heavily armed and using live ammunition,” Zeid said.

The High Commissioner recalled that law enforcement officials, including the military acting in that capacity, must never use firearms except against someone representing an imminent threat to life or of serious injury and only when less extreme means are insufficient.

“The failure by the DRC authorities and the security forces, to abide by their international obligations to guarantee people’s right to freedoms of expression and of association and assembly is to be deplored,” he stressed.

The violence of the past few days has not been limited to Kinshasa, Lumbumbashi and the east but has also been reported in several regions, which indicates that the political crisis is leading to wider destabilisation, Zeid noted.

“Violent repression of dissenting voices and a heavy-handed and irresponsible response to demonstrations risk provoking violence in return by demonstrators and possibly even tipping the constitutional crisis over the president’s future into further conflict across the country,” the High Commissioner warned.

The High Commissioner noted that to date no one has been held accountable for the deaths of 54 people in Kinshasa in September when the defence and security forces used excessive force against demonstrators calling for constitutional deadlines to be respected and for President Kabila to step down at the end of his second and final mandate.

“Such impunity for past violence appears to have fostered a belief among security personnel that they can open fire against demonstrators without being held accountable for their actions,” Zeid said.

The High Commissioner reiterated calls by, among others, the National Episcopal Conference (CENCO) which has been trying to mediate an accord between the opposition and the ruling party, for an independent and transparent inquiry into the recent violence.

“It is essential that all those, at whatever level, who are responsible for human rights violations are held accountable. Without such a credible response from the government, the risk is that violent situations or ongoing conflict, including between communities over resources, could degenerate further,” Zeid said.

Among the violations documented by UNJHRO:

  • On 20 December, 13 civilians were killed in Kinshasa by defence and security forces and another two people were killed on 22 December. Eleven of these killings are attributable to the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC, including six by the Military Police (MP) and one by the Republican Guard (RG). Two policemen were killed by protesters. In addition, at least 12 people were injured by defence and security forces, and at least 150 people were arrested.
  • On 20 December in Lubumbashi, at least eight men and two children were killed and at least 60 civilians were injured by the security forces. During demonstrations in Lumbumbashi on 20 December, at least 130 people were arrested. A further 145 people, including 23 minors, were arrested in their houses during search operations on 21 and 22 December
  • In Matadi, on 20 December, at least three men were killed by officers from the National Police (PNC). Five people were injured by PNC officers and FARDC soldiers, and the police arrested at least 26 people.
  • On 20 December, in Boma, 12 civilians, including three women, were killed and 12 others were wounded by PNC officers and FARDC soldiers.
  • Between 17 and 22 December, at least 102 people were arbitrarily arrested in Goma, including 24 activists from the Lucha youth movement, a journalist and 10 members of opposition political parties.
  • Eight Lucha activists were also arrested in Mbuji-Mayi by agents from the National Information Agency (ANR) on 21 December.
  • In Oicha, at least 30 people, including 16 women, were arrested by PNC officers on 19 December.

ENDS

DRC: OHCHR press briefing notes (23.12.2016)

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Over the past week, the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO) has documented at least 40 killings of civilians in Kinshasa, Lumbumbashi, Boma and Matadi. 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 23, 2016 –

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell

Location:      Geneva

Subject:        DRC

Reports that dozens of people have been killed by police and soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past few days are deeply troubling and point to growing instability in the country, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday.

Over the past week, the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO) has documented at least 40 killings of civilians in Kinshasa, Lumbumbashi, Boma and Matadi, mainly of people protesting against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the official end of his mandate on 19 December. Some 107 people have been injured or ill-treated and there have been at least 460 arrests.

Communique de la Septieme Reunion de haut niveau du Mecanisme Regional de suivi de l’Accord-cadre pour la paix, la Securite et la Cooperation pour la Republique Democratique du Congo et la Region (26.10.2016)

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OHCHR Report 2016: Proven Human Rights Violations in the DRC!

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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).

Political Prisoners:

“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).

Prions:

“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).

ADF Violence:

“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).

Musenyi:

“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).

Kavumu:

“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.

Reference:

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

MONUSCO and OHCHR reports on Humanitarian Law Violations committed by the ADF combatations in the terrority of Beni, North-Kivu Province between 1. October 2014 and 31. December 2014

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