A stronger judiciary: antidote to the Allied Democratic Forces’ impunity

Congolese armed forces after dismantling ADF rebel camp in North Kivu on 18 February 2018 Congolese armed forces after dismantling ADF rebel camp in North Kivu on 18 February 2018 Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

10 July 2020

The United Nations declared that judicial investigations are needed to ascertain the Allied Democratic Forces’ crimes and bring criminals to justice

As brutal crimes continue to feature the ordinary lives of civilians in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Abdoul Aziz Thioye, the Director of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO), affirmed that judicial investigations are necessary in order to acknowledge the nature of violences and to bring the perpetrators to justice. This statement accompanied the report on the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by armed groups in several eastern provinces of DRC, released on 6 July by the UNJHRO. Indeed, it highlighted that the attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have risen by 69% compared to 2018 and they can be described as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Between January 2019 and June 2020, 1066 civilians were killed, 176 were injured and 717 kidnapped in North Kivu and Ituri. Notably, the ADF was responsible of burning down villages, targeting health and educational centres, forcibly recruiting and kidnapping civilians and in several cases there was a clear intent of leaving no one alive.

The ADF is a Ugandan Islamist group which from 1986 on settled in DRC and has resisted several attempts to neutralise it, while managing to root in the mountainous area at the border with Uganda thanks to its strategic location, deep integration in the cross-border economy and the pervasive corruption in the security forces. Following the military operations conducted by the Congolese Army in 2014, the ADF was forced to move in North Kivu and Ituri provinces and, from that moment on, this armed group began to commit violences against civilians. After the most recent Congolese Army’s military campaigns against the ADF in 2019, the attacks on local population augmented with the purpose of terrifying them and make them questioning the effectiveness of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) operations even though in fact they undermined their influence in the area, dismantling many of ADF military bases. 

Considering these circumstances, Mr. Aziz Thioye showed the way by pointing out that strengthening local judicial structures is a necessary step to fight impunity and to make reparations to the victims. 


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Author: Giulia Azzarone

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