Daily abuses against civilians, including widespread killings, rapes and other serious human rights violations continue to be committed in the DRC due to the proliferation and diversion of weapons and ammunitions to be used by the regular army, the police, and by armed groups.
Conflict in DRC can be seen especially as a “war against women,” in which women and girls were and are being raped in great numbers, as a means of destroying their families and communities. All sides have committed these offenses. In recent months the Congolese armed forces have been responsible for the greatest number of rapes.
All or nearly all of the contending military forces in DRC made heavy use of minors, as combatants, as porters, as cooks, and as sex slaves. More than two years after DRC launched a countrywide program to release and reintegrate child soldiers into civilian life, at least 11,000 children are still with armed groups or are unaccounted for. The majority of girls are either abandoned or misidentified as “dependents” of adult fighters. In some areas girls make up less than two percent of the children released from armed groups and passing through the DRC’s disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program (DDR), despite the fact that they make up approximately 40 percent of the children used by armed groups. The government has taken no steps to trace and recover these missing children. Implementation of the demobilization program has been hampered by a lack of political and military will, serious management and technical problems and continuing insecurity in eastern DRC.
Since the international war began in 1996, and up to the present, human rights defenders have faced threats, violence, and even murder. Few of those responsible have been punished. Impunity reflects both a lack of will and the ineffectiveness of the Congolese military and civilian justice systems.
Human rights defenders and journalists in Congo have faced increasing risks as a result of their work. Previous assaults and killings have rarely been properly investigated or those responsible brought to justice.
On July 31, 2005, Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi, a human rights defender, was shot dead at his home in Bukavu, in eastern Congo. His death was followed by the killing of two well known Radio Okapi journalists, Serge Maheshe in June 2007 and Didace Namujimbo in November 2008, also in Bukavu. In November 2005, Franck Ngyke, a journalist, and his wife, Hélène Mpaka, were murdered outside their home in Kinshasa.
On June 1, 2010, the prominent human rights defender, Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was murdered, soon after he had visited police headquarters in Kinshasa.
The investigations and subsequent trials into each of these killings were led by the Congolese military authorities and were marred by serious irregularities.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
DO THESE CONSTITUTE WAR CRIMES OR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
SHOULD ANYONE BE PROSECUTED FOR THEM?
IF SO, WHO?