From: Human Rights Watch, 1 March 2010
FARDC (Congolese army) colonel Innocent Zimurinda, a senior army officer based in North Kivu, was named responsible by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions for the massacre of Rwandan Hutu refugees in North Kivu in April, 2009. Now, fifty Congolese human rights and civil society organizations, along with Human Rights Watch, have lodged a formal complaint against Colonel Zimurin to General Amuli Bahigwa, the officer in command of Congolese army operations in eastern Congo. The complaint draws attention to the alleged abuses in North Kivu from 2007 to the present for which he is believed to be responsible, either directly or under his command.
The complaint urgently requests 1) the launch of credible and impartial investigations into the alleged abuses, and taking of all appropriate action; 2) immediate suspension of Colonel Zimurinda from operational command pending the outcome of these investigations.
The alleged abuses include:
- summary killings in Buramba, North Kivu (March 2007)
- killing of civilians and mass execution of prisoners, Rubare, Katwiguru and Kiseguru (Feb-Aug 2007)
- Kiwanja massacre, Rutshuru, North Kivu (Nov 2008)
- Shalio massacre, Walikale, North Kivu (Apr 2009)
- Maintenance and recruitment of child soldiers within troops under Zimurinda’s command (2009)
- Rape and summary executions, Masisi (2009-2010)
- Abusive forced labour (2009-2010)
- Forced evictions and arbitrary arrests (2009)
- Illegal taxation (2009-2010)
On July 5, 2009, the Congolese government announced that there would be “zero tolerance” for human rights abuses committed by FARDC military personnel and said that those responsible would be held to account. This policy gave us hope that FARDC soldiers would end their abuses against civilians. But for this policy to have real meaning it must be applied to commanding officers such as Colonel Zimurinda who continue to be responsible for serious abuses.
—Letter to General Amuli Bahigwa, 1 March 2010
On 11 March, the US Department of State released its 2009 Human Rights Report on the DRC, as part of its country reports on Human Rights practices.
The report summarizes evidence collected by various organizations to show that mass rape is still very much a weapon of war used by all armed groups, including “security” forces such as the FARDC, the country’s army.
- UN Population Fund (UNFPA): reported 2,075 cases of sexual violence in North Kivu, 834 in South Kivu, and 885 cases in Orientale (Jan-June, 2009)
- Human Rights Watch (HRW): the total number of sexual violence cases registered at health centers in North and South Kivu exceeded 7,500 by Sept. 2009, which was nearly double the total for the same period in 2008. HRW also reported in August 2009 that, in nine conflict zones it had visited since January, rape cases had doubled or tripled compared with 2008. In over half of the cases HRW recorded, the victims were gang-raped by two or more assailants. The youngest victim was 2 years old, and 65 percent of the cases in North Kivu were perpetrated by FARDC soldiers.
- International Rescue Committee (IRC): registered approximately 1,200 cases of rape in South Kivu during 2009 and found that up to 80 percent of survivors identified their assailants as members of either the FARDC or armed groups
- International Cooperation (COOPI): observed between February and July, a 300 percent increase in the number of survivors of sexual violence it assisted in Maniema and Katanga, which the NGO attributed to a “spill-over effect” caused by Kimia II in neighboring conflict-affected provinces (North and South Kivu)
Organization of the report:
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life; b. Disappearance; c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention; e. Denial of Fair Public Trial; f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence; g. Use of Excessive Force and Other Abuses in Internal Conflicts
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press; b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association; c. Freedom of Religion; d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency
Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Section 7 Worker Rights