DR Congo

DRC: The human rights situation in December 2005

Source
Published
MONUC Human Rights Division

In the Ituri District, military operations to flush out remaining militia from the area south of Lake Albert have been the context for serious human rights violations against the civilian population, according to several reports received by HRD/Bunia.

Six fishermen are alleged to have been extra judicially executed by soldiers at Koga 1 on 18 November 2005. Local villagers were ordered to bury the bodies in a mass grave. A seventh victim is alleged to have been killed at the same location two days later. Three further bodies -- a man, woman and 5 year old child - have been found 2 km away from the site of the killings. The local population believes these victims were killed as they attempted to flee.

In Katanga, FARDC military operations against Mayi Mayi continue. HRD/Lubumbashi were presented a group of 46 "prisoners of war" (out of a total of around 400 detainees) by the 6th MR. Human rights officers observed that the prisoners included children. Many of them were sick and had no clothing. At Pungwe- a village 9 km from Manono in northern Katanga- the local village chief complained to MILOBS that the FARDC were harassing the local population. According to the source, soldiers' conducting operations against the Mayi Mayi are instead looting livestock from locals and forcing the villagers to transport stolen goods. Local observers claim that rapes are more frequently reported than ever.

At least nine women were reportedly raped by approximately twenty soldiers on 20 November 2005 during an attack on the village of Bilundule in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu - 15 Km from Kanyabayonga - according to local sources. The victims were raped on their way to the fields in Bilundule. The victims were taken for medical treatment by an international NGO. Governor Serufuli blamed the FDLR/FOCA for the attack. According to Radio Okapi, the alleged perpetrators are former FARDC soldiers, allied with Laurent Nkunda. The HRD/Goma will verify the information.

FARDC

FARDC military are once more accused of violating the right to life. HRD/Goma is investigating the death of a civilian in military custody. A suspected thief died on 2 November 2005 in the holding the cell of the 116th battalion at Kasunyui -- about 6 km from Minova - from beatings inflicted by soldiers, according to a local police official. However the battalion commander claims the suspect was beaten by the population at the time of his arrest.

An elderly Ngiti civilian was found dead on 29 November in Lakpa - a village around 25 km south of Bunia -- about a week after he was allegedly arrested by the FARDC, who also stole 300 cattle from him. His body was with his arms tied behind, three bullets in his back and other wounds. The Military Prosecutor has begun an investigation.

A civilian was reportedly shot dead and another wounded by a soldier after they refused to carry a sack of flour. The incident reportedly took place at Kabilonga village -- approximately 200 km south west of Bukavu - on 30 November 2005. In the same area, a group of soldiers also reportedly beat up a local civilian and stole his briefcase. The soldiers were reportedly from the 1071st battalion of the 107th Brigade. HRD/Bukavu will raise the cases with the 10th MR.

Soldiers are reportedly responsible for rapes. A woman was allegedly raped by a soldier in Kasenyi, as she was on her way to visit a relative in hospital on 30 November 2005. The victim was asked to reveal her ethnic origins by her attacker, before being pushed to the ground and raped by him, not far from the MONUC sub office in the town. The victim required medical assistance after the attack.

In Kisangani, the military prosecutor has been investigating the case of the gang rape of an 11 year old girl by three soldiers. The incident allegedly took place in a military camp in the town during the night of 25-6 November. The victim was said to be tied with an electric cable and repeatedly raped throughout the night. One of the alleged perpetrators has already been arrested.

A 13-year-old girl was reportedly raped by two armed men, who seemed to be members of the security forces in the night of 28 November 2005 in Mbuji Mayi. The perpetrators broke into the victim's house, abducted and gang-raped her 200m down the road. The identity of the perpetrators is not clear due to the fact that they were wearing raincoats and the victim could not identify their uniform (military or police). Currently, she is undergoing medical treatment in the hospital. The CPS and HRD/Mbuji Mayi follow the case.

HRD/Bunia will verify reports that soldiers in Aba -- approximately 250km north of Bunia in Oriental Province- are abducting schoolgirls to be held in military camps as sex slaves. Several sources have made complaints about the practice that they say has become 'systematic"

The FARDC are also reportedly responsible for a number of other acts of physical violence including torture. A civilian arrested by the private security of the town brewery (BRALIMA) on 16 November, was allegedly held in a safe, before being handed over to the ANR in connection to a theft. Later that day, some 40 soldiers transported the suspect and three others held at ANR, to the residence of the Commander of the 8th MR, where he was reportedly tortured in order to confess to the robbery. The following day, the four detainees were taken to the military intelligence facility for three days before being transferred to Goma's Main Prison. HRD/Goma is trying to verify information that torture, including fake executions, occurred at the alleged location.

On 27 November 2005, five civilians were copiously beaten by a group of FARDC soldiers in the village of Rana -- 50 km south-west of Bukavu -- after an argument over land property, according to a local source. The perpetrators also extorted money from one of the victims, then arrested him and kept him tied up during several hours. In Kabamba-Kaboneke- 48 km north of Bukavu - a FARDC officer reportedly arrested and beat up a woman, when she disputed his right to shelter from the rain. The victim was allegedly beaten in the house, before being taken to a military camp in Kabamba, where she was again beaten with a whip. She is currently in hospital because of her injuries.

A group of FARDC military reportedly subjected villagers from Kyondo-Vahyana - 38 km south east of Butembo- and Ngitse -15 km south of Kyondo-Vahyana - to a range of human rights violations on 30 November 2005. According to several sources, the soldiers entered the market places of the two villages in order to buy their food rations. However, they started to extort money from local traders and steal. Road blocks were also reportedly erected by them to obtain bribes. Three individuals were wounded during these incidents including two women from Kyondo and a man in Ngitse, who was injured by blows from a rifle butt. HRD/Butembo will visit the area to verify the information.

Two members of a local trade association (butchery) received phone death threats from a caller identifying himself as Colonel Bonane of the FARDC, on 27 November 2005. The threats were made after the butchers contested his decision to give priority to some cattle dealers over those regularly registered in Mongbwalu -- approximately 40 km north of Bunia. The Colonel has allegedly claimed that he has authority to impose such a decision since he is the FARDC operational commander in Mongbwalu.

In Maniema, a gold digger from the village of Bikenge -- 131 km south west of Kindu- claimed he was beaten by two soldiers as he came up from the local mine. The soldiers allegedly ordered the victim to show his mining permit, to which he replied that they were not authorised to ask for this. In response the soldiers slapped the victim to the ground and then beat him viciously with a belt.

The FARDC are continuing to arrest and detain civilians. During a routine visit to a holding cell at the military intelligence facility in Uvira, human rights officers found a Rwandese civilian held there since his arrest at the border on 21 November 2005. The motive for his arrest was that he was in possession of a Congolese voter registration card. The victim claimed that he had been subjected to extortion by those holding him. HRD/Uvira is raising his case with the UNHCR.

During a visit to the military Camp Saio in Bukavu, the Division found seven civilians held among 31 detainees there. None of the detainees have been brought before a magistrate, although some of them had been held since early September.

In Mungele -- 175 km north east of Kindu -- the HRD found that the rule of law was maintained by 15 FARDC troops present, in the absence of police or any other security force. These soldiers survive by way of a road block they have erected and demanding a sum from passers by. The commander of the 7th MR has ordered these soldiers to end such illegal practices.

The FARDC were once again allegedly responsible for the majority of human rights violations under investigation by the HRD this week. North Kivu Province was the worst affected. In the night of 4 December 2005, a civilian and his 15 year old son were reportedly killed and his wife wounded by gunshot by "armed men in military uniform". The incident occurred in the village of Chankeere - 8 km south east of Rutshuru centre. A civilian was reportedly summarily executed by FARDC soldiers patrolling in the locality of Mighobwe -- 146 km south of Butembo during the night of 7 - 8 December 2005. The circumstances of the killing are unclear, but the victim -- who was killed by three gun shots -- is said to be mentally ill and was mistaken for a bandit by the solders.

A local administrator from Bambu village -- approximately 60km north of Goma -- was reportedly killed in his home at around 1 am on 8 December by soldiers. A post of the 83rd Brigade (ex-ANC) is based in Bambu. Human rights officers are gathering further information on all three cases.

Also in North Kivu, an ex-soldier, recently demobilized from the 12th Brigade (ex-ANC) was reportedly abducted from a hospital bed by a group of soldiers from the 5th integrated brigade during the night of 4-5 December. According to a source in the area, the victim was taken from a clinic in Kiwanja- 50 km north of Goma- to the head quarters of the 5th Brigade. There he was reportedly severely beaten. He was then presented to local population by the Brigade Commander, who threatened to drown him. Following the intervention of a MONUC brigade in Rutshuru, the victim was returned to the clinic on 7 December.

In South Kivu, a local NGO reports that a civilian was killed by soldiers at Male in Mwenga territory -- approximately 2000km south west of Bukavu on 6 December. The victim was forced into the water of the river Elila, by the soldiers when he refused to carry their luggage across the river, the victim drowned as the soldiers threatened him with their guns from getting out of the water.

A civilian was shot dead in an incident involving two soldiers in Mbuji Mayi on 3 December 2005. According to local sources, the shooting occurred following an attempt by soldiers to steal clothes and a motorbike from an individual in the airport area and rape a woman accompanying him. When the woman resisted the rape attempt, the soldiers opened fire and hit a passer-by in the head, killing him instantly

In the Ituri District, the FARDC are allegedly continuing to commit serious human rights violations against the local population. According to the administrator of Irumu , the authorities have registered 24 rapes involving women and school-girls by soldiers in the localities of Kaguma, Tsubina, Kagaba, Tchekele, Kazoko, Kagoro and Dzimbira all of them in collectivity Walendu Bindi from 1 to 23 November 2005. The FARDC remain in the vicinity, following operations against the FRPI in the area around Gety. HRD/Bunia will visit the area to gather information on the allegations.

A civilian was publicly beaten by an officer of the FARDC Naval base in Kasenyi on 5 December 2005. The victim, who intervened to separate a soldier and his wife who were fighting, was later arrested and accused of having injured a soldier. The victim was publicly beaten, then held for one night.

The FARDC arbitrarily arrested four demobilized combatants and a woman who came from Walendu Watsi and Alur-Djuganda collectivities for a CONADER payment in Mahagi on 30 November 2005. The soldiers allegedly stole their money and belongings before the four were released. A number of arrests were made shortly afterwards, although the alleged perpetrators were released without charge.

In Kasai Occidental, a local NGO from Dekese Territory informed HRD/Kananga that on 30 November 2005, one of its members was publicly flogged and hit with rifle butts by three FARDC soldiers for refusing to hand over his bicycle to them. The victim was travelling from Bambafuka - 62 km from Dekese- when he met the soldiers on the way. The HRD will be presenting the case to the Military Region in Kananga.

The PNC

The PNC are also under investigation for serious human rights violations, including arbitrary killings and torture. A civilian allegedly died in the police camp Lufungula in Kinshasa on 5 November 2005 following severe beating by policemen. The victim was arrested the same day at the central market on the pretext of being a 'street child' during the raid ordered by the Governor. The HRD/Kinshasa follows the case.

A local source informed HRD/Bukavu that an elderly man was tortured by police at Mukwija -- 100 km north of Bukavu - on 21 November in order to inform them of the whereabouts of his son. The victim was detained for a week before being released after signing a declaration promising to hand his son over the police in connection with a murder case.

In Kasai Occidental, the PNC are responsible for serious human rights violations. During a visit to Mbinza in Luiza territory this week, HRD/Kananga heard that three women IDPs were raped by two policemen as they were searching for food at Ngonyi on 20 November 2005. Earlier in the month, police at Ngonyi had sexually harassed local women in their fields. The victims filed a complaint about the incident. The Division has called for the arrest of those responsible.

In a separate incident in the province, HRD/Kananga heard how on 26 November 2005, a group of soldiers, police and ANR officials looted and carried out acts of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment on the local population in the course of a criminal investigation. These events occurred at the village of Lushika -210 km from Kananga- where an investigation into a local murder case was taking place. However, the security forces proceded to arrest beat and rob local inhabitants indiscriminately, making off with their goods and livestock.

In Punia 175 km north east of Kindu, the PNC are committing multiple arbitrary arrests and detaining the locals illegally. The police extort money from the public by enforcing illegal fines and legal costs.

Human rights violations committed by police officers and other members of the security forces have been reported during the week in review. Two civilians claim to have been subjected to the violation of their right to physical integrity by police officers in Mbuji Mayi. A handicapped civilian was wounded by gunshot when policemen entered a private residence in the neighbourhood of Muluma Musula and shot him in the leg in the evening of 6 December. The perpetrator was allegedly one of three policemen who were in the neighbourhood and said to be harassing the local inhabitants. A 17-year-old girl claimed to have been beaten by a police officer on 5 December, when she refused his advances. In reaction, the perpetrator threatened her before beating her with a rifle butt in the eye, knee and stomach. HRD/Mbuji Mayi was able to observe marks consistent with her allegations on her body.

In Maniema, different branches of the police, including OPJs and traffic police, are reportedly responsible for human rights violations including arbitrary arrest and extortion in the province. Three cases of arbitrary arrest and detention and six cases of extortion by police officers were registered during the week. In a typical case, a civilian in Kalima - 101 km from Kindu -- claimed that he was arrested on 4 December and detained for 36 hours by an OPJ for having a debt of 6,000cf (approximately $US 12.) The OPJ threatened to confiscate the victim's voter registration card if he did not repay the debt.

Police (UPI) in Kinshasa arrested 11 computer operators from the CEI, allegedly on the orders of their superior authorities within the commission. They were arrested on 9 December and were detained for several hourse at Kinshasa's main police station, the IPK. Human rights officers who attempted to visit the facility on 10 December were denied access, despite assurances of the Provincial Police Inspector during a meeting with the HRD held on 8 December that the Division could access the facility at any time.

Other security forces

In Kin-Maziere, a security services detention facility in the capital, five high level civil servants have been detained illegally for over a month. They were arrested at different dates between 17 and 25 October 2005 and held in holding cells at the Conseil National de Securite (CNS) in connection with the illegal sale of passports. The five, from the "DGRAD " (tax collection), are held without charge and have no access to their defence lawyers. The CNS has no mandate in Congolese law to arrest and detain individuals for alleged infractions of the penal code.

During a routine visit to the ANR holding cells in Kinshasa, the HRD found 11 detainees -- including one woman - held there. Four of those held are foreign nationals -- including two Angolans detained since 2 November 2005. The president of civil society in Baraka and one other individual from Fizi is detained, after being arrested in Bujumbura on 21 October and extradited to the DRC on 6 November. Four other detainees, recently transferred from Bukavu were also in the cell. HRD/Kinshasa will meet with the legal advisor of the ANR this week to question the legality of the detentions.

A local human rights organization in Lubumbashi reports that a civilian arrested by the ANR in Likasi on 7 November 2005 was transferred to Lubumbashi on 7 December. The detainee, who is held illegally, was arrested on the grounds that he publicly stated that a high military official was responsible for corruption. According to the source, the detainee was beaten by the ANR before his transfer to Lubumbashi. HRD/Lubumbashi will make contact with the ANR.

Armed group abuses

In northern Katanga, Mayi Mayi militia are believed to be responsible for terrorising the local population and causing them to flee their villages. According to military observers in Pweto -600 km from Kalemie- a group of 221 IDPS claim to have fled their villages ( Kalela, Beni and Kabato) after attacks by Mayi Mayi (Gédéon) on 28 November 2005. According to the IDPS, a customary chief was killed by Mayi Mayi and their homes set alight. Voter registration cards were also confiscated by the militiamen, many of whom were armed with bows and arrows. HRD/Kalemie plans to gather further information on the abuses pushing the IDPS to flee their villages, by visiting the area at the earliest opportunity.

A local pastor has reportedly been abducted by Mayi Mayi from Kabindi -- 90 km from Nyunzu in Northern Katanga -- on 30 November. His kidnappers have asked for a kilo of gold as ransom.

According to local sources, fighting between FARDC and the Mayi Mayi in early December led to the deaths of a least two civilians in the village of Kosovo, part of Kizabi locality -- some 60 km from Pweto. Houses were set alight and around 80 families are reported to have fled the area. Other reports indicated that the FARDC in the area around Kizabi have been erecting road blocks and extorting money from the locals. Elector's cards have also allegedly been confiscated by them. One IDP told MILOBs that he observed a number of bodies in the village of Beni, after the passage of the Mayi Mayi (Gédéon) The chief of Beni locality was able to supply the names of two adults and a 3-year-old child, allegedly shot dead by the Mayi Mayi in Beni on 28 November, he also explained that the head of Kakubwa village -- 3 km from Beni- had his ears cut off by the Mayi Mayi. Two others were wounded during this attack. He also claimed that the villages of Beni, Lupepo, Kakubwa, Buntungwa, Kaboto, Kapeta, Kiama, Selemani and Kizabi were all looted and burnt. During a visit to Pweto on 6 December, human rights officers were able to observe the requisitioning of bicycles by the FARDC from the population and the presence of roadblock where civilians were being extorted.

In the Ituri District, a civilian was killed near Ndoya River in Marabo -- 25 km west of Bunia -- allegedly by FRPI militia men wearing military former UPC uniforms and carrying firearms on 2 December 2005. The victim apparently died from knife wounds in the chest and head injuries caused by from being struck with rocks. The motive of the attack seems to be theft, since his killers left with more than 100 cattle he was guarding. A neighbour found the body and informed nearby FARDC position in Peka.