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Massive Human Rights Violations in DRC Linked to Armed Conflicts, Report Finds

FILE - Soldiers from the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) ride in a vehicle as they patrol in the violence-torn Djugu region, in Ituri province, eastern DRC, March 13, 2020.

A new U.N. report links continued armed conflicts and widespread impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo to massive human rights violations.

In presenting the report of her office to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, expressed dismay and alarm at the horrific toll armed conflicts are taking on the civilian population in the DRC.

While North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces are particularly affected by conflict, she said violence also continues in Maniema, Kasai, Kasai Central and Tanganyika provinces.

“As the report documents, the impact of armed conflicts on the people of the DRC is deep and increasing. Several reports point to incidents that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.… Armed groups are largely responsible for the considerable increase in violations and abuses recorded by my office,” Bachelet said.

Eastern Congo, in particular, has been racked with violence for years, as various groups compete for control of rich mining areas.

Bachelet said her office has recorded a monthly average of 704 violations in the DRC, a sharp increase from last year’s monthly average of 548. She said violence and fear have displaced some 5.5 million people and forced more than 900,000 to flee to other African countries for refuge.

The report also documents widespread violations of civil and political rights throughout the country. It finds human rights defenders and journalists are subject to threats, arbitrary detentions, harassment, and they also are subject to increasing human rights violations and abuses. It documents rising sexual violence against women and girls.

Bachelet called for an end to impunity. She says perpetrators of these crimes must be held accountable. She added victims must receive justice and be recompensed for their suffering.

DRC Minister of Human Rights Andre Lite Asebea acknowledges the need to combat impunity, serious crimes, and corruption at all levels. He said his government is engaged in doing just that.

“We have considerable capacities here. We want to rationalize and ensure that we can build a much better DRC with human rights fully respected,” he said.

Asebea said the Congolese state intends to continue this effort until the difficulties have been considerably reduced and the working conditions for the judiciary have been improved.