Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights held a hearing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) thanks the subcommittee for its interest in DRC issues. AFJN expressed its concerns to the subcommittee about the absence of a Congolese on the panel, but was please to hear Subcommittee chairman, Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), mention in his opening remarks that they had invited a Congolese citizen, but he was unable to attend. Other Congolese had contacted the subcommittee with the same concern and have suggested that the subcommittee find a replacement in the Congolese diaspora, which has numerous qualified people to speak to the issues that Congo has faced and still facing today. It is our belief that there can be no solution to Congo’s problems without the Congolese. Click here to watch the hearing. Also read or listen to Ann Garrison’s coverage of the hearing in “White Man’s Burden: Affleck and Prendergast in Congress for Congo

The hearing underscored, among other things, the importance for the Obama administration to appoint a special envoy to the region as it is stipulated in the US Public Law 109-456 , Democratic republic of the Congo relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, a bill which was spearheaded by then Senator Obama and signed into law by president George W. Bush in December 2006. Click here to read the law. It is surprising that now President Obama is unable to implement the law he authored. We hope that with renewed effort by advocacy groups, AFJN among them, this law will not expire before it is implemented.

Africa Faith and Justice Network submitted questions to members of congress of the Africa subcommittee. The questions that were not asked or refered to either by the panel or members who attended the hearing aimed to highlight the pertinent issue of justice in Congo and the Great Lakes in general as the basis for lasting peace and prosperity. These questions are about the UN report released on October 1, 2010, a “ Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003.” Suggested Questions for the hearing on the DRC congo March 8

The crimes detailed in this report implicate, among others, nations of Africa’s Great Lakes and neighbor to DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Obviously, the culture of impunity has prevented many countries in Africa and the Great Lakes in particular from advancing in any area of development and governance. We believe that the UN mapping report which is the key focus of the questions we submitted will not become another achieve, but a opportunity for the region and the Congo in particular to end impunity and establish the rule of law.

Recently, the Congolese diaspora met at the Department of State with the US ambassador to DRC Mr. to discuss some policy priorities. The UN report was part of their talking points. Click here to read them.

Also, On March 2, 2011, on Capitol Hill, in the House of the Representatives, the African Great Lakes Advocacy Coalition, of which AFJN is a member held a congressional briefing to highlight the UN Mapping Report. Learn more about the event here , and watch event’s youtube video.

To this day, Congo is a battleground for superpowers that only desire its resources and care not about its people. The time for Congo to be a partner with whoever wishes to do business with its people is overdue.

Please join the Africa Faith of Justice Network E-network to help in our effort towards a peaceful, prosperous, free and independent Congo. Click the link at the right to join today!