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Report of the team of international experts on the situation in Kasai (A/HRC/45/50)

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Human Rights Council
Forty-fifth session
14 September–2 October 2020
Agenda item 10
Technical assistance and capacity-building

Summary

This report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 41/26 of 12 July 2019, which renewed the mandate of the team of international experts on the situation in Kasai and requested it to submit a final report to the Council at its forty-fifth session. The report, preceded by an oral report from early March whose presentation was postponed to 17 June 2020, covers the period from July 2019 to August 2020. Its submission takes place in the context of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which has had a negative impact on the implementation of the mandate of the team of international experts. The period in question was marked by a relative lull in the violence in the Kasai region, despite daily human rights violations, continuing crime and a worsened humanitarian situation. There is a serious humanitarian crisis there due to the massive return of several hundred thousand Congolese nationals, most of whom were expelled by the Angolan authorities, supposedly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by relieving crowding at prisons and expelling undocumented foreigners. The problem is compounded by a difficult political context, with several provincial assemblies and governments in crisis.

Despite this difficult context, the team of international experts has noted definite progress in the judicial processing of cases opened in the context of the crisis affecting Kasai between 2016 and 2018. Such progress, however, falls short, as the fight against impunity is still a challenge that is far from being met by the Congolese justice system.

Several recommendations made in previous reports have not yet been implemented by the State; such is the case for the disarmament of all militia members, followed by their social and economic reintegration; the freeing of the women taken hostage by the Bana Mura militia; and the provision of sufficient human and material resources to the judiciary to enable it to carry out its work in a timely manner and in acceptable conditions.

With regard to strategies for reconciliation, transitional justice, victim assistance and reparations, the team of international experts notes that there has been progress in the implementation of the project entitled Peace, Justice, Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Kasai Central, with community consultations and the establishment of a drafting committee tasked with drawing up a decree for the implementation of the recommendations. In early August 2020, the Congolese Government expressed its willingness to create a legal framework for transitional justice and reparation for victims.

Some victims have formed associations to take legal action. The team of international experts welcomes this initiative and urges all those involved to support them in their struggle for the respect of their rights.

I. Introduction

  1. Taking note of the observation by the team of international experts in its previous report that the current lull in the violence in Kasai is fragile, ethnic tensions remain high and the situation must still be monitored closely, (A/HRC/41/31, paras. 19 and 72), the Human Rights Council, in its resolution 41/26 of 12 July 2019, renewed the mandate of the team of international experts, tasking it with observing, assessing and assisting the efforts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the previous team of international experts and instructing it to submit a final report to the Council at its forty-fifth session.

  2. In order to facilitate its performance of this mandate, the Human Rights Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide, at the request of the authorities, technical assistance, including the necessary forensic expertise, to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to support the judicial authorities in their investigations into allegations of human rights violations and abuses in the Kasai region and other regions of the country, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice.

  3. The international experts, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, of Senegal, as Chair of the team, and Sheila B. Keetharuth, of Mauritius, as a team member, were appointed for this purpose by the Human Rights Council. In carrying out its mandate, the team of international experts was supported by a secretariat based in Kananga, composed of three international members and one national member. The team of international experts proceeded to draw up its workplan and to plan its field visits. Of the six planned visits, the team carried out only two: from 7 to 16 November 2019 and from 12 to 28 January 2020. The team of international experts was unable to implement its workplan as foreseen owing to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  4. However, on 17 June 2020, both international experts took part in the Human Rights Council’s interactive dialogue on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, participating by videoconference from their respective countries because of the COVID-19 restrictions in force during the Council’s forty-third session. At that time, they reported on the progress of their work and shared some preliminary findings.

  5. The present report, submitted to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fifth session, contains the conclusions and recommendations of the team of international experts.