Head of state: Joseph Kabila
Head of government: Adolphe Muzito
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 67.8 million
Life expectancy: 48 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 209/187 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 66.6 per cent
Civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were subjected to serious human rights violations throughout the year by government forces and armed groups. An armed group besieged Mbandaka in April; the town returned to government control after two days of fighting during which soldiers allegedly committed extrajudicial executions, rapes and arbitrary detentions. Foreign and Congolese armed groups committed abuses, including the mass rape of more than 300 people in July and August in North Kivu. The security services were also responsible for politically motivated human rights violations. Prominent human rights defender Floribert Chebeya was killed in June.
The national army, Forces Armées de la République Democratique du Congo (FARDC), led several military operations against armed groups in eastern and northern DRC. Operation Amani Leo, which was launched in January against the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), conducted operations throughout North and South Kivu. FARDC soldiers reportedly subjected civilians to forced labour and arbitrary detentions as well as seizing property and livestock. The UN provided some logistical and planning support to Amani Leo. The FARDC also led operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Province Orientale and against the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (AFD/NALU) in the Grand Nord region of North Kivu, which led to displacement of civilians.
On 4 April, an armed group, the Mouvement de libération indépendante des alliés (MLIA), attacked Mbandaka, capital of Equateur province, controlling parts of the city for two days. Congolese security forces deployed in response allegedly killed, raped and arbitrarily detained civilians.
Impunity for human rights violations remained rife. Known perpetrators of crimes under international law were not removed from their posts or brought to justice. In March the President announced that the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC) was to leave by June 2011. The mission was renamed the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) from 1 July as part of a compromise with the DRC government. MONUSCO’s mandate was extended until at least June 2011, and the government agreed that UN troops would be withdrawn only after demonstrable improvements in security.
In September, the DRC ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, which requires it to grant access to places of detention to national and UN observers. In March, during the UN Universal Periodic Review, the government opposed a recommendation to grant UN observers access to detention centres, including those of the National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements, ANR) and the National Guard.
A government reshuffle in March removed the position of Minister for Human Rights. Responsibility for human rights promotion was transferred to the Minister of Justice. In April the government launched a Human Rights Liaison Committee to improve communications between human rights organizations and the authorities.
In December, opposition leaders announced their candidacy for presidential elections in 2011. The announcement coincided with incidents of violations of the rights of journalists and opposition parties to freedom of expression and to freedom of assembly.
Abuses by armed groups
Attacks on civilians by the LRA were particularly intense in February and March. The LRA abducted civilians and forced them to fight. In the Bas Uélé district of Province Orientale, 80 people were reportedly killed by the LRA between 22 and 26 February. As of July, over 300,000 people were displaced in Haut and Bas Uélé as a result of LRA attacks.