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Arbitrary killings, rape part of ongoing abuses in the east

Photo: Gratien Ira/IRIN
Civilians displaced by conflict in North Kivu. The report by the UN Mission in the DRC accuses government soldiers of executing and raping civilians in the province of North Kivu
NAIROBI, 19 April 2007 (IRIN) - Executions and rape of civilians have continued in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) according to a report published by the United Nations detailing human rights abuses during the month of March.

Among the abuses was the arbitrary execution on 10 March of 15 civilians who were shot in the head in a North Kivu village by soldiers of DRC's national army.

The report, released by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) on Monday, claims the soldiers were from the Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo's (FARDC) recently mixed Bravo Brigade in Buramba village, 106 km from Goma town. The killings followed the death of four soldiers in a separate clash in a nearby village.

Included in the report were details of numerous killings, including the shootings in February of civilians in Rughenda and Butemba in North Kivu; Kabamba, north of Bukavu; and Katwiguru, north of Goma. In March, killings also occurred in Bankoko, Bunia, and Ituri; Rubaya, southwest of Goma; and in Mahagi, Ituri district; among others.

"FARDC soldiers were responsible for numerous incidents of arbitrary executions and other human rights violations, particularly the right to physical integrity and to liberty and security of persons throughout the DRC," the report noted. In some cases, the perpetrators were detained.

Photo: OCHA
Map of North Kivu Province
The FARDC is an integrated national army, comprising former rebel fighters, militias and soldiers from the former national army.
Numerous cases of alleged rape are listed, including that of two women in Bakwa Nsumpi near Mbuji Mayi. "Both perpetrators, who confessed to the crime of rape and abduction, were arrested and detained at the Bipemba police station," the report said. "They were later transferred to the Office of the Military Prosecutor." 

Another case involved two 13-year-old girls who were abducted and raped near Butembo on their way back from a funeral. They were threatened and intimidated by the alleged perpetrator who made them walk for approximately 1 km before raping them. The perpetrator escaped arrest.

In Nyamukubi, north Kivu, an 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two soldiers. "The little girl was raped because her parents had resisted the illegal occupation of their family residence by soldiers newly deployed to the locality," MONUC said.

According to the report, FARDC soldiers have also continued to regularly commit human rights violations in the diamond-rich territory of Bafwasende of Orientale Province, 262 km east of Kisangani.

In Mvuelle, near Matadi, the soldiers allegedly extort goods and money from the local population by imposing fines on people involved in disputes. "The soldiers acted as judges in disputes among the villagers and then request goats, chickens and money from the local population as fines for their services," MONUC said.

''The soldiers acted as judges in disputes among the villagers and then request goats, chickens and money from the local population as fines for their services''
The report also details cases of arrests, rape and killings by police. "Other security forces were implicated in several cases of human rights violations," it noted.

Meanwhile, children are still being recruited for the North Kivu brigades within the DRC and also from across the border in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. Quoting international and local child protection workers, it said 300 and 500 children, some as young as 13, currently serve in newly formed army brigades.

"The Congolese government should immediately stop former rebel warlords now commissioned as national army officers from recruiting and using child soldiers in army brigades deployed in North Kivu province," HRW said in a statement on Thursday.

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