On November 28th, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held its second presidential and parliamentary election since the devastating war that began in 1996 and continues to claim lives in the eastern part of the country. Assassinations, intimidation, and other human rights violations have been reported since the electoral process started. On December 6th, the preliminary presidential election results are expected to be announced. If the results are in, who is in power? Are the results contested? What are the issues at hand going forward? Can Congo move on
without addressing its fresh and painful past? Specifically, what are the prospects justice for the millions of Congolese killed by foreign and local troops during the invasion of the Congo in 1996 and beyond?
Since the release of the “Mapping Exercise Report” by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR), on October 1st 2010, very little has been done to address questions of justice, accountability and bringing an end to rampant impunity. This report must not become another archived document; the new government must make justice and accountability a priority. Finally, the December 6th briefing will address the significance of the elections and recommendations of the Mapping Exercise Report to US Foreign Policy.
Recommendation To The United States Government Regarding the 2011 Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (PDF file)
On November 28, 2011, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held its second presidential and parliamentary elections since the devastating war that began in 1996 and continues to claim lives in the eastern part of the country. Assassinations, intimidation, and other human rights
violations have been reported since the beginning of the electoral process. On December 6, 2011, the preliminary presidential election results are expected to be announced. Both the Congolese people and the international community are concerned about violence engulfing the country and possibly its neighbors. Unresolved issues of accountability, impunity and lack of justice as identified in the UN Mapping Exercise Report demand a concerted international engagement.
On June 29, 2006, the United States Senate passed S. 2125: Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, which was subsequently passed into law on Dec 22, 2006; Public Law No: 109‐456. Section 102 (1) of the law states:
It is the policy of the United States to help promote, reinvigorate, and support the political process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to press all parties in the Transitional National Government and the succeeding government to implement fully and to institutionalize mechanisms, including national and international election observers, fair and transparent voter registration procedures, and a significant civic awareness and public education campaign created for the July 30, 2006, elections and future elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to ensure that elections are carried out in a fair and democratic manner.
In concert with U.S. law and stated U.S. policy, we urgently request of the US government to be engaged in the following ways:
1. Call for transparency in the voting results and support the verification process that ensuresthe results reflect the will of the people.
2. Continue to engage the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a committed and helpful partner by strongly condemning, pressuring and assisting to hold accountable those responsible for the
violence that occurred before, during and after the elections.
Mapping Exercise Report Recommendations to the US government
Since the early 1990s, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa have witnessed some of the gravest crimes committed against humanity. Congolese people have called on the world community and people of conscience to join them in bringing an end to the impunity and the suffering. The UN Mapping Exercise Report is a key instrument at the disposal of the international community to help secure justice for the Congolese people and bring about peace, stability and human dignity. The United States Congress and the United States government can play a key role by doing the following:
1. Hold hearings on the UN Mapping Exercise Report;
2. Call on the State Department to alert its Ambassador to the United Nations to make the report a priority
and address its recommendations;
3. Investigate whether or not the Leahy Amendment is being violated in the Great Lakes Region. The Leahy Amendment, first introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as an amendment to the 1997 Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act, prohibits U.S. security assistance to foreign military or security units “against whom exist credible allegations of gross violations of human rights;”
4. Cease military support of Congo’s neighbors implicated in the report of having committed mass atrocities, crimes against humanity, war crimes and possibly genocide. Public Law 109-456 Section 105
authorizes the Secretary of State to withhold aid from Congo’s neighbors who have been destabilizing the country. The Obama Administration should fully implement PL 109-456.
5. Support efforts to establish an international tribunal as requested by over 200 Congolese orgnizations.
Recommendations by 220 Congolese NGOs:
1. Establish new general policies of justice that would build on the creation of several complementary mechanisms, judicial and non-judicial;
2. Establish accountability measures in public institutions that would result in the removal from its management people such as General John Bosco Tanganda and General Numbi accused of serious
violations or attacks against human rights defenders so they could face prosecution;
3. Institute appropriate mechanisms to ensure justice and shed light on crimes and massive violations of human rights denounced in the report, including:
(i) The creation of special courts or special chambers within the Congolese courts;
(ii) The creation of a new Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
(iii) The establishment of compensation programs for victims, and
(iv) The true and thorough reforms of the entire security sector (army, police and Justice).
4. A regional reconciliation mechanism of the peoples of the Great Lakes region, which will accelerate the free movement of people in the region, facilitate cross-border trade, strengthen judicial cooperation,
and demilitarize public services at the borders;
5. Support a regional accountability and reconciliation mechanism to address issues of impunity and lack of justice.