The United Nations warns of crimes against humanity in the Congo

 Building with the abbreviation “UN” written on one of its external walls Building with the abbreviation “UN” written on one of its external walls Photo by Dimitris Vetsikas, on Pixabay

02 February 2021

A 2020 UN  report warns against potential crimes against humanity in the DRC and makes recommendations

Numerous attacks against civilians have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2020, leading the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to raise the alarm for potential crimes against humanity.  Marta Hurtado, an OHCHR spokesperson, referred to increasing and systematic cases of human rights abuses across the country as having caused these concerns. 

According to the United Nation’s report, 849 civilians were killed by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in just two provinces of the DRC. Furthermore, 62 civilians were injured, four women were sexually abused, 534 people were kidnapped (among which 457 are still missing), and increased levels of displacement have been reported as a direct cause of reprisal attacks by the group. Moreover, the killing of 47 civilians, the sexual abuse of 27 women and 22 children, as well as the arbitrary arrests of 126 people were attributed to the Congolese national Armed Forces during their operations against the ADF. 

A 2019 report from Amnesty International documented massive human rights violations, the existence of a state of impunity,  generalized failures in bringing perpetrators to justice, and difficulties concerning the respect of international human rights law, all of which Mrs. Hurtado has highlighted for 2020 as well. Fresh attacks on the 13th of January 2021 that resulted in the death of 14 civilians, including two pregnant women, confirm that the severity of the situation and gravity of the violations go on undiminished. The recommendations of the new report include encouraging the DRC authorities to ensure that international human rights and humanitarian laws are respected by the national security forces, and suggests that protection mechanisms for civilians should be strengthened; it was also encouraged that the government increases its cooperation efforts with its neighbours in order to locate and bring escaped ADF perpetrators to justice.


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Author: Charoula Papastefanaki; Editor: Maxime Grenier

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