The special session of the human rights council that was held in December 2008 regarding the situation in the DRC, which called for an end of human rights violations, did not bring any positive responses regarding the wide impunity grave human rights violators enjoy, including sexual violence perpetrators.
As was recalled by the Human Rights Council resolution on the human rights situation in eastern DRC, "the Congolese government is directly responsible to reinforce the protection of the population, to investigate and bring to justice the violators of human rights and humanitarian law". Yet in the beginning of 2009, civilians were still victims of these violations during the joint operations of DRC (FARDC), Rwanda and Uganda armies in the North Kivu, South Kivu and Oriental Province (February 2009). In addition, violent retaliation against the population were undertaken by the LRA and the CNDP. If the agreement reached in Goma on the 5th December 2008 between the Rwandan and Congolese governments has managed to bring peace in the region, FIDH condemns the lack of will of the Congolese authorities to fight against the impunity of the perpetrators of grave crimes against humanity, casting doubts over the sustainability of a long term peace agreement. For instance, the Congolese president Joseph Kabila declared his opposition to handing over Bosco Ntaganda, major general of the CNDP, to the ICC in The Hague. The latter is subject to a warrant of arrest in the international judicial system since August 2006, for the involvement of children in armed conflict, war crimes he allegedly committed between 2002 and 2003 in Ituri.
Moreover, our organizations recall that the grave human rights violations that occurred were not automatically linked to the armed conflict raging in Kivu and Oriental Province which is exemplified by the toughening of Congolese authorities’ actions regarding any dissenting voice coming either from the political parties or from the civil society. Therefore, freedom of expression, peaceful gathering of associations were in jeopardy in 2008: the independent media are regularly closed under decisions of the Ministry of communication or attacked by the security services, notably when they broadcast interviews from the members of the political opposition.
The civil society organisations which fight against impunity challenge the political authorities’ repression. Generally, during 2008, human rights defenders from DRC were charged for their work and excluded of the protection of the Congolese government.
Regarding the seriousness of the situation, our organizations call upon the Council to put in place an expert to identify the key recommendations formulated by the thematic Special Procedure mandated by the 7/20 Resolution, concerning the fight against impunity, and to conduct a regular dialogue with the Congolese government to promote their effective implementation.
For more information: Julie Gromellon, Representative for the United Nations, +41 79 331 24 50