Some 10,000 artisanal miners are at risk of serious human rights violations if forcibly removed by the army from a mining area owned by one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) largest cobalt producers, Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM). On 17 June 2019, the DRC army deployed up to 800 soldiers to the area. The artisanal miners have been given until 2 July 2019 to voluntarily leave the area after which they will be forcibly removed.
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Excellency Mr. Félix Tshisekedi
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador François Nkuna Balumuene
1100 Connecticut Ave NW #725 Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202 234 7690
Fax: 202 234 2609 | 202 223 3377
Email: [email protected]
Contact form: https://bit.ly/2XKahqd
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to express serious concerns about the deployment of a battalion from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) army to the Tenke Fungurume Mine (TFM) in the Lualaba province, to remove more than 10,000 artisanal miners. The army’s Colonel Emmanuel Kabamba has publicly indicated that the army will use force to remove the artisanal miners if they fail to voluntarily vacate the area by 2 July 2019. I am extremely worried that such a forcible removal will put the miners at risk of serious human rights violations.
The DRC army has a long history of excessive use of force, and its soldiers are not properly trained or equipped to carry out policing functions in accordance with international law and standards. Considering this, it is highly likely that they will commit serious human rights violations if they move to forcibly remove the artisanal miners. There have already been reports that the army has destroyed buying houses and temporary shelters.
Artisanal miners (“creuseurs”) enter onto concessions owned by private companies such as TFM, due to a lack of authorized and regulated artisanal mining zones, as documented by Amnesty International in our 2016 report on children and adults working in hazardous conditions in artisanal cobalt mines. Amnesty International has also previously documented human rights violations related to operations to remove artisanal miners. In 2009, hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed in the village of Kawama during an operation by the mines police to remove artisanal miners on the Luiswishi mine. These are structural issues, which need to be addressed by the government in consultation with a range of stakeholders, including artisanal mining communities.
I am therefore writing to urge you, as a matter of urgency, to immediately order the army to withdraw from the Tenke Fungurume Mining concession and surrounding area, and rescind its threat to use force if the miners do not leave by 2 July 2019; ensure that any public order security forces deployed to secure the area exercise restraint, are properly trained and equipped, and do not use excessive force in any attempt to remove the artisanal miners; initiate a dialogue with representatives of the artisanal miners to address the structural issues that lead to such incursions on large-scale mines, including by creating new authorized artisanal zones, regularizing unauthorized mining areas and supporting the formalization of mining activities.