Government soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain responsible for the country’s worst human rights abuses, carrying out arbitrary executions and raping, robbing or extorting civilians, according to the latest report by the United Nations peacekeeping mission.
The human rights assessment for July, released today, shows that Congolese police, soldiers and members of rebel groups fighting the Government have also perpetrated serious abuses, especially in the violence-wracked Kivu provinces in the far east of the vast country.
The UN mission, known as MONUC, reported that a widespread climate of impunity allows many of these abuses to go unpunished, even months after they were committed.
It cited a separate report by the UN Human Rights Office in the DRC indicating that Congolese soldiers and police officers used indiscriminate and excessive force – and in some instances carried out summary executions – in quelling protests in Bas-Congo province by an opposition movement in late January and early February. Six months after those events, the people responsible for the human rights violations have not been arrested.
Today’s report details numerous instances of human rights abuses by the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), including at least 10 documented cases of arbitrary executions and one particularly gruesome case on 29 July in which a soldier in North Kivu province allegedly raped and then chopped to death a Hutu woman and her three-month-old baby.
It further outlines rights violations by the Congolese national police (PNC) and by armed rebel groups, including the murder and rape of villagers and the extortion and robbing of civilians.
The assessment also finds continued weaknesses and systemic failures in the administration of justice across the DRC and that prison inmates and family members who visit them in jail have been beaten by authorities.
Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, conducted a 12-day visit in July to the DRC, where she met with Government officials, UN agencies, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and victims of violence.
Ms. Ertürk denounced the shortcomings of the criminal justice system in dealing with cases of sexual violence, including the high number of alleged perpetrators who have been granted bail after being charged with serious crimes.
She described the patterns and level of sexual violence in South Kivu province as the worst she has ever seen in four years as a Special Rapporteur.