Annual Report: Democratic Republic Of The Congo 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Democratic Republic Of The Congo 2011

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  • On 2 June, Floribert Chebeya, a prominent human rights defender, was found dead in his car in Kinshasa. He and his driver had gone missing the day before after going to meet the General Inspector of Police, at his request. The driver remained missing. Eight police officers were charged with the murder and their trial began in November. The General Inspector of Police was suspended but not charged.

Freedom of expression - journalists

Scores of journalists throughout the country were threatened, arbitrarily arrested, prosecuted, intimidated, warned by state authorities not to report on certain subjects, and sometimes killed for their work. Radio France International broadcasts were restored after a year’s suspension by the government, which had banned international reporting on military operations.

  • On 5 April, cameraman Patient Chebeya was killed by armed men in front of his house in Beni, North Kivu.

International justice

On 1 October, the UN reported on a mapping exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003. The report raised hopes of justice for crimes under international and national law for thousands of victims and human rights defenders. While not binding under Congolese law, the report amplified the obligation of the government to investigate the violations, bring those responsible to justice, and ensure victims received effective reparation.

  • Proceedings continued before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Thomas Lubanga, charged with recruiting and using children under the age of 15 for the armed group Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) in Ituri. In July, the trial nearly collapsed when the Prosecutor refused to comply with a ruling by ICC judges to disclose the identity of an intermediary to defence lawyers. The appeal chamber ruled in October that the trial could continue.
  • On 11 October, French authorities arrested Callixte Mbarushimana, Secretary of the FDLR, following an arrest warrant issued by the ICC. He had been living as a refugee in France.
  • In October, the DRC Minister of Justice reiterated the government’s refusal to surrender Bosco Ntaganda to the ICC, which had sought him since 2006 on charges of recruitment and use of children.
  • Proceedings in the ICC case of Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Vice President of the DRC charged with crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic, were dominated by challenges to the ICC’s jurisdiction by defence lawyers. The trial eventually began on 22 November.