Confronting outbreaks of violence, the MONUSCO must be reinforced

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(Kinshasa, Paris) On 29 March, the United Nations Security Council will vote on the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Ahead of this vote, FIDH and its three member organizations in the DRC1 are publishing a position paper which draws an alarming conclusion on the security and political situation in the country. It documents the intensification of violence and violations committed by different armed groups and details the ongoing repression and its effects. While elections are scheduled for December 2017, the continuing deterioration of the situation since the summer of 2016 raises fears of widespread conflagration. Our organizations urge the Security Council to renew the mandate of the MONUSCO and to strengthen its means of action.

FIDH and its three member organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today issued a position paper entitled "DRC: Confronting outbreaks of violence and political unrest to ensure democratic change", which analyzes the explosive security and political situation in the country.

The position paper documents many clashes and human rights violations committed by members of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and armed groups active in North Kivu and the Kasaï provinces. The violence has intensified in recent months, causing hundreds of civilian casualties in these areas. Serious human rights violations have been reported, including killings, kidnappings, recruitment of child soldiers, acts of sexual violence, and the looting and burning of dozens of villages.

Moreover, despite the political agreement signed on December 31, 2016, which is expected to bring the country to presidential, legislative and provincial elections by the end of 2017, the repression of the voices engaged in the democratic struggle continues. While the authorities have carried out releases under the so-called "confidence-building" measures, many human rights defenders and political opponents continue to be arrested, detained, or subjected to death threats and judicial harassment. The demonstrations continue to be prevented or prohibited, and some media and journalists are still being silenced. The political process triggered by the agreement has since been stalled.

In this context, and nine months from the elections, the renewal of the MONUSCO’s mandate is an absolute necessity to protect the civilian populations and accompany the electoral process. Moreover, given the increase in violence and the FARDC’s inability to protect the civilian population who are victims of massacres and looting, the Mission’s capacities must be strengthened.

In parallel with the maintenance and strengthening of the MONUSCO, our organizations recommend in this note the adoption of additional measures to curb the outbreaks of violence and allow for democratic change. The Member States of the Security Council and of the European Union must urge the government to respect the electoral timetable and implement the December 31 Agreement. Additional individual measures, following those adopted by the European Union and the United States in December 2016, should be taken to impose sanctions on those who oppose the political process and constitute an obstacle to peace as well as on those responsible for the recent serious human rights violations.

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