Democratic Republic of Congo
Upwards of 7 million people have died and millions more have been displaced since 1996 in the internal conflict of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Portions of the country have been left besieged by rebels and neighboring forces from Rwanda and Uganda.
Plagued by Sexual Violence
Women have been left defenseless to a prevalence of rape that is considered to be the worst in the world. In fact, studies report that a rape occurs at a rate of one every minute. Sadly, rape is not limited to women but men and boys are also victims. Sexual violence in the DR Congo is not limited to rape, but also includes abduction and sexual slavery, sexual mutilation and forced maternity. Victims of sexual violence are subjected to rejection, traumas, diseases and stigmatization, as well as left with feelings of shame, abandonment and hopelessness.
The land has been picked over by multinational corporations who take conflict minerals like columbite-tantalite (coltan), wolframite, cassiterite, and gold, which are used in cell phone screens, digital video recorders, laptops and jewelry...and of course these corporations do not share any of the profits with the Congolese.
Although there have been several international agreements to end the conflict in the DR Congo, the fighting continues in the North Kivu and the South Kivu provinces. Human Rights defenders have been subjected to threats, violent acts committed them and been the victims of murder. All the while, the perpetrators go unpunished.
While the international community have demanded action to be taken in the DRC, the Congolese justice system has been unsuccessful in holding those responsible for war crimes. The UN Mapping Report revealed that although tens of thousands of perpetrators have committed some of the most appalling crimes; since 1993 there have only been 12 trials - in military courts and not in civilian courts.
In 2004, the International Criminal Courts' (ICC) Chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo made the decision to open the investigation of crimes committed in the DRC since July 1, 2002, the date of initiation of the Rome Statue of the ICC. The investigation led to the arrest of four people: Germain Katanga, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, and Callixte Mbarushimana allegedly responsible for war crimes. A fifth individual, Bosco Ntaganda remains at large.
In 2010 the trials of Katanga and Ngudjolo, both of whom are charged with rape, sexual slavery, pillaging, property destruction, attacks against civilians and using children under the age of fifteen to take active part in the hostilities and murder began. Also in 2010, the trial of Lubanga Dyilo began for the crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of fifteen and forcing them to participate actively in hostilities. Mbarushimana was arrested in 2010 and is charged with eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In order to end the impunity for crimes committed in the DRC, it is important it is imperative that the government and military officials responsible are prosecuted. Unfortunately, the DRC government refuses to arrest and surrender Bosco Ntaganda to the ICC. In fact, Ntaganda has been promoted to the rank of general in the armed forces.
Despite a MONUSCO, United Nations peacekeeping mission in the region; the mines in which many of the conflict minerals are extracted are controlled by armed groups. A 2009 UN report issued that armed groups continue to control and profit from conflict minerals as they also continue to commit grave human rights violations including child and slave labor, sexual violence and mass displacement.
The Genocide Report supports legislative efforts including the Conflict Minerals Trade Act and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which disrupts the chain that connects conflict minerals to consumer electronics and abuses, violence and insecurity that has cost millions of lives in the DRC. These laws force companies to verify that the minerals used in products do not contribute financially to the armed conflict nor result in human rights violations.
Featured Image: Courtesy of the Associated Press