DR Congo

DR Congo: Monthly Human Rights Assessment - May 2007

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Human Rights Division / MONUC

Summary: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, paid a six-day working visit to the DRC; FDLR/RASTA rebels killed 17 villagers in South Kivu Province; Five civilians were arbitrarily executed by the 2nd Battalion of the Bravo Brigade in Rudehe-Katwiguru, North Kivu; FARDC and PNC elements were implicated in several violations of the rights to life, physical integrity, particularly rape, as well as the right to liberty and security of person.

Furthermore, The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, presented a preliminary report on his visit to the DRC to the Human Rights Council; 252 inmates of the Kinshasa Central Prison (CPRK) were granted conditional release; The Kilwa massacre trial resumed before the Military Court in Lubumbashi, Katanga Province, following a suspension of several months; The Boma Military Tribunal (Bas-Congo Province) delivered its verdict in the case of seven members of the politico-religious group Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK).

Main Developments

1. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, paid a six-day working visit (from 13-19 May 2007) to the DRC, as part of a three-country trip to the Great Lakes Region aimed at reaffirming the centrality of protecting and promoting human rights in national reconciliation and sustainable reconstruction. In Kinshasa, she met with President Kabila, the Ministers of Defense, Justice, Human Rights and Foreign Affairs, the President of the National Assembly as well as the Presidents of the Permanent Commissions of the National Assembly.

During her meetings, the High Commissioner stressed the need to combat the culture of impunity and reminded the authorities of their obligation to refuse to grant amnesty to persons known to have committed serious human rights violations. She also encouraged the authorities to introduce a vetting process within the security forces to ensure that officers suspected of committing, condoning or ordering the commission of human rights violations be suspended from their posts and brought to justice.

She presented and received the full support of President Kabila for the mapping exercise that is aimed at carrying out an inventory of all gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations perpetrated in the DRC between 1993 and 2003. The High Commissioner urged the Parliament to pass the laws establishing an Independent National Human Rights Commission and the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

She also stressed the need to pass laws creating the Constitutional Court, the Conseil d'Etat, Cour de Cassation and particularly the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature, as provided for in the constitution. During her stay in Kinshasa, she also expressed concern at the overcrowded state of prisons and called on the authorities to explore alternative solutions to detention, particularly the extremely large number of persons in pre-trial detention.