Kinshasa/New York (10 May 2012): Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović has raised alarm over the recent upsurge in violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The human rights situation in the DRC is of grave concern. The activities of armed groups, particularly the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Mayi Mayi, constitute a major threat to the civilian population especially in the Kivus,” he stated today in Kinshasa at the conclusion of his nine-day visit to the country.
In Eastern Congo, he was “appalled” by the heightened levels of recent violence triggered by defections in the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), including former members of the militia groups National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) and Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance (PARECO). The violence has resulted in the displacement of 40,600 people since April this year, with reports of human rights violations.
He welcomed joint efforts between the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), humanitarian actors and the authorities to protect civilians and respond to human rights violations. In South Kivu, in particular, they have instituted innovative ways to protect civilians, including the participation of MONUSCO’s civilian components in the planning and monitoring of recent joint military operations.
“Restoring state authority, establishing the rule of law, protecting human rights and building accountable, democratic and professional security forces is a prerequisite for peace, stability and justice”, he emphasised. “It will require a coordinated and integrated approach to security sector reform with the support of all relevant actors.”
An efficient justice system equipped with adequate resources will help to deter future human rights violations, which is essential in fighting against impunity, Šimonović said. He encouraged the military justice system to keep up its investigation and prosecution of the Bushani and Walikale mass rapes which occurred in 2010 and 2011.
He was also encouraged to hear from the General Prosecutor, Flory Kabange Numbi, that investigations into the human rights violations committed in Kinshasa during the 2011 electoral process will be concluded before the upcoming local and provincial elections, creating a conducive environment for the polls.
“This is sending the right signal that perpetrators can no longer go unpunished. I encourage the Government to continue to pursue its efforts in this direction and I reiterate the UN’s support in this regard,” he said.
Šimonović also expressed concern about the plight of Congolese migrants expelled from Angola, numbering about 100,000 in 2011. During his visit to the Angolan border on Monday, he heard from the victims’ stories of rape, humiliating treatment, prolonged imprisonment and robbery.
“The question of borders is a sovereign one that should be dealt with bilaterally between the DRC and Angola. However, having the migrants’ rights respected during their expulsion is an obligation under international human rights law,” he said.
During his visit to the DRC, 2 May to 10 May, Šimonović met with Congolese government officials, local authorities, the leadership of the UN peace mission and civil society representatives.
New York: Fred Kirungi, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tel +1-917-367-3431, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Geneva: Ravina Shamdasani, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tel +41-22-9179310, email email@example.com
Kinshasa: Rachel Sherwin, United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, Tel: +243 (0)8 10 91 56 00, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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