DR Congo

DR Congo: Monthly Human Rights Assessment - Apr 2007

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Human Rights Division / MONUC

Summary: A MONUC Multidisciplinary Special Investigation Team continued investigations into the 22-23 March incidents in Kinshasa; Soldiers of Charlie Brigade arbitrarily executed four civilians in Rubaya, Maisisi territory, North Kivu on 29 April; Elements of the 2nd Battalion of the Bravo Brigade continue to arrest and mistreat civilians on the pretext that they are Mayi-Mayi or FDLR collaborators; FARDC elements were responsible for serious human rights violations, particularly arbitrary executions and rape, throughout the DRC.(1)

Moreover, PNC agents implicated in violations of the right to life and physical integrity in several provinces; Rwandan Hutu and Mayi-Mayi combatants are the perpetrators of many human rights abuses in North and South Kivu; ANR agents are responsible for cases of arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment; The Kinshasa/Gombe Military Tribunal has acquitted former presidential candidate Marie-Thérèse Nlandu and co-defendants of all charges.

Main developments

1. During the period under review, a MONUC Multidisciplinary Special Investigations Team continued investigations into the events of 22-23 March in Kinshasa. The team interviewed over 200 victims and witnesses and conducted visits to dozens of locations relevant to the investigations. However, the team's work suffered from the refusal of the authorities to grant access to some important locations, such as the compound of former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba and some military camps. Numerous incidents of intimidation by the intelligence services, police and military in the wake of the violence have also discouraged victims, witnesses, hospitals and medical centres staff and authorities from coming forward or speaking freely with the team. The team expects to conclude its investigations in mid-May.

2. On 29 April 2007, five elements of Charlie Brigade (mixed) shot dead four civilians in the village of Rubaya, located 60 km north-west of Goma, in the territory of Masisi, North Kivu Province. All five perpetrators belong to the escort of the Deputy Commander of Charlie Brigade. The victims were all Hutus and resided in the neighbouring village of Kibabi. Investigations into the causes of the killings are ongoing.

3. A series of rapes was allegedly committed by FARDC soldiers from the 2nd Integrated Brigade based in Vuyinga - 60 km west of Butembo, North Kivu, during the first week of April. An 18-year-old woman was allegedly raped on 4 April in her house, and a 13-year-old girl was raped on 5 April 2005 near a water-well. Another minor was allegedly raped on 1 April in Butembo also by a soldier from the 23rd Battalion of the 2nd Integrated Brigade. The alleged perpetrator in the latter case was arrested. These incidents of rape were followed by a wave of arbitrary arrests of civilians by the FARDC in Vuyinga village on 6 April. At least six civilians were allegedly arrested, including the village chief. According to a local source, these arrests took place after the villagers tried to intervene to demand that the perpetrators be punished. All the arrested persons were released on 8 April.

4. On 30 April 2007, the Kinshasa/Gombe Military Tribunal acquitted lawyer and former presidential candidate, Marie-Thérèse Nlandu and her nine co-defendants of charges of organizing an insurrectionary movement, participating in an insurrectionary movement and illegal possession of weapons, due to insufficient evidence. Me Nlandu was arrested on 21November 2006 by the Special Services branch of the police (Kin Mazière) when she went to enquire about the whereabouts of six of her collaborators who had been arrested the day before.

She was charged by the Office of the Military Prosecutor on 22 November and remanded to the CPRK (Kinshasa Central Prison) together with her collaborators later that day. The charges brought against Me Nlandu were linked to statements she had made to a group of MLC supporters outside the Supreme Court of Justice in Kinshasa on 20 November and during an interview with the media inside the Supreme Court on 21 November (the day part of that institution was set on fire and ransacked by protestors) as well as three hand grenades that the police claimed to have found in one of her vehicles on 20 November.

Note

1) Some of the incidents under investigation took place in March 2007.