Bukavu, 13 April 2015 — Putting an end to the most serious violations of human rights in the DR Congo – that is the goal that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office seek to promote through a series of workshops on the prevention of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and all forms of discrimination. In Bukavu, the provincial capital of South Kivu, the workshop brought together different State and non-State actors in the legal and judicial fields from 13 to 15 April 2015.
The three-day workshop, according to the organizers, has a double folded aim: “to provide a framework for sharing best practices and experiences to help turn this province into an area of lasting peace, security and stability for shared growth and development for the States and peoples of the Great Lakes region” and “to strengthen the capacities of the members who will make up the provincial division of the National Committee for the Prevention of Genocide…” Opportunity is given to the participants to reflect on “the issues regarding the most severe violations of human rights, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and all forms of discrimination,” explained Mr. Pierre Egide Bossale, head of the National Committee for the Prevention of Crimes of Genocide, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity in the democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The aim, he said, is to help “generate better strategies and put in place adequate mechanisms to help decision-makers at all levels to react effectively and efficiently to prevent and respond to any risk of serious atrocities.”
Mr. Baudoin Amuli, ICGLR National Coordinator, for his part looked backed on Africa’s long history and spoke about the crimes committed since the time of the deportation of indigenous people, and about the crimes committed in recent years such as those documented in the United Nations Mapping Report on the DRC for the period between March 1993 and June 2003. Mr. Amuli noted that the history of the DRC, after its independence, has been marked by rebellions and wars with millions of lives lost and hundreds of thousands of rape cases recorded. “It is time to stop this bad paradigm, » he said.
Next to speak was Mme Adama Ndao, head of the Conduct and Discipline Unit of MONUSCO/South Kivu, who represented at this meeting the United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and any Discrimination. Mme Ndao recalled that “in December 2014, the DRC became the sixth Member State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region to set up an institution with the specific objective to prevent the crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity…”
The DRC did so in compliance with its obligations under the protocol on the prevention and repression of crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and all forms of discrimination. This protocol is contained in the Pact on Security, Stability and Development of the Great Lakes Region. It was adopted in 2006 by the Heads of State in the framework of the Great Lakes Conference process. Mme Dao recalled that “the United Nations, through the Office of the Special Advisor and through MONUSCO, and other United Nations entities are committed to working with the DRC Government and other stakeholders to incorporate the measures into the early prevention mechanisms. »
The opening session of the workshop was launched by the provincial minister of Human rights, Mme Gisèle Nabozi Balegamire, on behalf South Kivu Governor Marcellin Cishambo who could not attend. In her statement Mme Balegamire also retraced the DRC’s tragic history, saying “these atrocities, like those still occurring today in South Kivu province, shock our collective conscience and allow the Congolese government to properly appreciate any initiative to prevent mass crimes in the DRC and other countries in the region or around the world.”
It remains to be seen how these measures and this political will are translated in concrete actions in the East of the DRC and in the Great Lakes region.