The human rights situation in the DRC continues to deteriorate. Serious violations, such as arbitrary executions, rape, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are pervasive, committed mostly by the army, police and intelligence services. The latter, highly politicized, are often used to commit politically-motivated crimes during specific periods and then revert to daily harassment and intimidation of Congolese citizens. Armed groups operating in the country, both foreign and Congolese, although responsible for only six per cent of documented human rights abuses, have perpetrated massacres, arbitrary executions, abductions of villagers, and subjected women to systematic rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence with full impunity. Civil and military jurisdictions continue to be prone to corruption, and lack the human and material resources needed to function efficiently. Interference by military and political authorities in the administration of justice is widespread. Despite declarations by the authorities, hardly any progress has been made in the fight against impunity. Prolonged pre-trial detention periods, dilapidated detention centres, and the lack of food and medical supplies are common throughout the DRC’s correctional system.
Thanks to MONUC’s support, Congolese courts successfully conducted at least five high-profile trials for war crimes or crimes against humanity. In some cases, the courts directly applied the Statute of the International Criminal Court. MONUC also created and set up legal aid clinics that provide free legal assistance to victims. As part of the Office’s efforts to assist in combating sexual and gender-based violence, four legal aid clinics were established, two in Equateur Province and two in Orientale Province. MONUC helped form a small cell of specialized investigators, deployed by the Chief Military Prosecutor throughout the country, to conduct investigations into serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and train military judicial officials in investigation techniques and protection of victims, in partnership with the Institute for International Criminal Investigations. A special investigation into the events of Buramba, North Kivu,was conducted by the first cell of trained investigators.
MONUC organized programmes, round table discussions, exhibitions and performances to mark international days commemorating the rights of women, the fight against racism, children’s rights, refugees, and the prevention of torture. It also organized training for judicial police officers, police commanders, the National Intelligence Agency and other security agents on the rights of persons in custody, and training for parliamentarians and the UN Country Team on the rights-based approach to policy making. The Human Rights Office of MONUC also disseminated international and national human rights materials.
MONUC will continue to focus its work on conflict-related human rights violations and on economic, social and cultural rights. The Office will organize seminars for law enforcement officials and members of provincial assemblies in all provinces. To ensure the sustainability of human rights protection and promotion mechanisms at the national level, the Office will help update and implement the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, elaborated in 2000, and will continue to provide training to human rights NGOs and human rights defenders, particularly regarding monitoring and reporting on economic, social and cultural rights. It will also continue its efforts to address widespread sexual violence by raising awareness among the army and police about relevant new legislation, providing legal assistance to victims, providing support to the judicial structures, including some prison renovation, and setting up legal clinics in most provinces. The Human Rights Office of MONUC will continue to work for the implementation of a civic education programme integrating human rights into at least 40 percent of DRC’s schools by the end of the biennium.
The Office will also monitor conditions in prisons and detention centres, and advocate for the strict application of existing laws and standards on detention. It will continue to train members of the inter-ministerial committee on reporting to treaty bodies, advocate for the enactment of appropriate legislation and implementation of related policies within the area of economic, social and cultural rights, and strengthen the capacity of duty-bearers through sensitization campaigns,workshops and panel discussions.