Annual Report: Democratic Republic of Congo 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Democratic Republic of Congo 2013

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Violence against women and girls

Women and girls bore the horrific cost of intensified hostilities and were widely subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence committed both by the FARDC and armed groups. Women and girls at particular risk were those in villages targeted for looting and intimidation operations by armed groups and the national army, as well as those living in camps for displaced people, who often had to walk long distances to reach their fields.

  • Between April and May, M23 combatants reportedly raped several dozen girls and women in the Jomba area in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu, where the M23 established its base. Most of those attacked had been displaced by the conflict.

Sexual violence was more pervasive where the national army lived alongside the population.

  • In late November, the UN reported that the FARDC were responsible for at least 126 cases of rape within a few days in Minova where the national army had retreated after the fall of Goma on 20 November.

Elsewhere in the country, members of the national police and other security forces continued to commit acts of rape and sexual violence.

Rape survivors were stigmatized by their communities, and did not receive adequate support or assistance.

Child soldiers

Children were recruited by both armed groups and the FARDC. Many were subjected to sexual violence and cruel and inhuman treatment while being used as fighters, carriers, cooks, guides, spies and messengers.

  • In March and April, in advance of the creation of the M23 armed group, children were abducted and forcibly recruited by defecting FARDC soldiers, particularly in Masisi territory in North Kivu.

On 4 October, the DRC government signed an Action Plan, adopted in the framework of Security Council Resolutions 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009), to end the recruitment of children. The agreement outlined specific measures for the release and reintegration of children associated with the government security forces and the prevention of further recruitment.

MONUSCO continued to carry out Demobilization, Disarmament, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration of FDLR soldiers, which included child soldiers.

Internally displaced people

Due in part to the escalating conflict in eastern DRC since April, the number of internally displaced people increased this year to more than 2.4 million, which is the highest number of internally displaced people since 2009. By 1 November, some 1.6 million people were internally displaced within North and South Kivu alone. Many of those internally displaced were civilians fleeing forced recruitment by armed groups.

  • In July, thousands of people, mostly women, children and the elderly, were displaced when the M23 fought the national army and took control of the town of Bunagana in Rutshuru territory.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment was endemic throughout the country, and often took place during unlawful arrests and detention by state security services.

Death penalty

Military courts continued to sentence individuals, including civilians, to death. No executions were reported.

  • On 30 May, a military court in Uvira sentenced two soldiers to death in their absence, and several other officers to life in prison, for participating in the call to mutiny by General Bosco Ntaganda in April.

Impunity

Impunity continued to fuel further human rights abuses. Efforts by judicial authorities to increase the capacity of the courts to deal with cases, including cases involving human rights abuses, had only limited success; many older cases did not progress. The Ministry of Justice’s initiatives in 2011 to address impunity for past and current crimes under international law were stalled and victims continued to be denied access to truth, justice and reparations. Court rulings were not implemented and key cases, such as the Walikale and the Bushani and Kalambahiro mass rapes of 2010 and 2011, progressed no further.

Although the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights asked the civil and military judicial authorities in February to open investigations into allegations of electoral violence, there was little evidence of any progress in the investigations during the year.