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Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2019/469)

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Letter dated 6 June 2019 from the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council

The members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose mandate was extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2424 (2018), have the honour to transmit herewith, in accordance with paragraph 4 of that resolution, the final report on their work.

The report was provided to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 8 May 2019 and was considered by the Committee on 24 May 2019.

The Group would appreciate if the present letter and the report were brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.

(Signed) David Zounmenou
Acting Coordinator
Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

(Signed) Nelson Alusala
Expert

(Signed) Jane Lewis
Expert

(Signed) Virginie Monchy
Expert

(Signed) Bart Vanthomme
Expert

Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Summary

The presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 30 December 2018 brought about a relatively peaceful transfer of power despite having been contested and marred by interference from armed groups. In the period since the inauguration of the new President, the Group has observed a growing number of armed groups willing to surrender provided that adequate structures are established and conditions are met.

Nevertheless, numerous local and foreign armed groups continued to pose serious security threats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), led by Seka Musa Baluku, has regrouped and rebuilt its capacity. ADF continued to attack civilians and security forces during the reporting period. The Group found that ADF continued to recruit and use children, in particular during attacks and combat. It also found that ADF engaged in conflict-related sexual violence, including through forced marriage. Although the radical interpretation of Islam by ADF and its recent propaganda suggested a willingness to be associated with other Islamist groups, the Group found no evidence of direct collaboration between them during the period under review. The Group noted that, for the first time, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant had claimed an attack on Congolese territory in April 2019, but the Group was not able to confirm any direct link with ADF at the time of writing.

Following violent clashes with local armed groups, the Conseil national pour le renouveau et la démocratie (CNRD), a Rwandan armed group, decamped with 4,000 combatants, dependants and Rwandan refugees from Masisi, North Kivu, to Kalehe, South Kivu, beginning in December 2018, following attacks of the Nduma défense du Congo-Rénové (NDC-R). Growing tensions between CNRD, the local population and the national armed forces, the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), raise concerns for civilian protection, underlining the urgency of durable solutions for an evolving situation.

NDC-R, on the other hand, expanded its territorial control in North Kivu and increased its troop strength, thereby posing a serious threat to stability in the area. Armed clashes between NDC-R and other local armed groups in northern Masisi and western Rutshuru territories in mid-January 2019 resulted in a number of serious human rights violations. The Group also identified collaboration between FARDC and NDC-R in these areas, consistent with previous findings.

Collaboration between local and foreign armed groups on Congolese territory was an exacerbating factor. For instance, in South Kivu, several Burundian armed groups, including the Résistance pour un état de droit au Burundi (RED Tabara), collaborated with local armed groups in the Middle Plains of Uvira. In turn, at least two military incursions were launched on Congolese territory by the Burundian armed forces, the Forces de défense nationale du Burundi (FDN), alongside members of a Burundian youth group known as Imbonerakure, affiliated with the Burundian ruling party, the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie. Two local armed groups supported FDN and Imbonerakure. Direct military interventions and the provision of material support to armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo constitute violations of the sanctions regime.

Ongoing insecurity caused by armed groups continued to hamper the response to the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Beni territory. Challenges relating to community acceptance and trust, coupled with repeated attacks against treatment centres and medical staff, were exacerbating factors.

In Yumbi territory, members of the Batende community systematically and indiscriminately killed hundreds of members of the Banunu community and persons perceived as being close to that community on 16 and 17 December 2018. The attacks were well planned, organized and coordinated, including by local leaders of the Batende community. These acts are serious human rights violations and sanctionable acts and may constitute crimes against humanity, and those responsible should be held to account.

With respect to natural resources, the Group noted that regulations in the artisanal and small-scale gold sector were either incomplete or poorly enforced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Group also found that smuggling and underdeclaration continued in Bukavu and Butembo, for onward delivery through Bujumbura, Kigali and Kampala to Dubai.

The Group found that armed groups continued to finance their activities through the illegal mining of tin (cassiterite), tantalum (coltan) and tungsten (wolframite), thereby contaminating the supply chain. The Group also documented cases of smuggling of tin, tantalum and tungsten involving criminal networks using various tactics, as well as specific instances in which some Congolese government officials were involved in the diversion of minerals. These acts constitute violations of Security Council resolutions, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Regional Certification Mechanism.

The Group documented a number of cases of violations of the arms embargo and non-compliance by supplier States with the requirement to notify the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo in advance of the delivery of arms and related military equipment. Armed groups continued to target FARDC camps and depots in order to seize weapons and ammunition and recovered a significant number of weapons and ammunition from FARDC losses during combat.