Joint report on DRC calls for establishment of country mandate
Thursday, 14 April 2011 09:02



On 23 March 2011, Ms Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on the violence against women, its causes and consequences, presented the third joint report of seven United Nations special procedures on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The report reiterated the deep concern expressed by the group of mandate holders since their initial report in March 2009, at the grave human rights situation in the country.


Ms Manjoo highlighted various cases of serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law, particularly in the eastern part of the country. More specifically, she noted widespread reports of arbitrary execution, arrest, forced displacement, rape, looting, and recruitment of child soldiers. These violations were largely committed in the context of operations conducted by the national armed forces (Forces armees de la Republique democratique du Congo (FARDC)) against armed groups, including combatants of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Mai Mai groups. The report also stressed that sexual violence remained a major cause of concern not only in eastern DRC, but also throughout the rest of the country. From 30 July to 2 August 2010, at least 380 women, children, and men were raped across 13 villages in North Kivu. She noted that several cases of sexual violence by national armed forced had been investigated, and stressed that such actions showed that accountability for sexual violence was possible if the political will to fight a culture of impunity was present. The period under consideration was also marked by a worrying increase in violations against human rights defenders and media actors, as evidenced by the killing of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire.


While the group of special procedures acknowledged that the Congolese authorities had stated that they were ready and willing to improve their cooperation with the international community, the report stressed that lasting improvements could only be achieved through regular exchange and dialogue. As such, late responses by the government to letters sent by the expert group, in addition to its less than seven per cent response rate to urgent appeals sent since March 2008, are counter-productive. The mandate holders also felt that the time constraints they experienced, given that they undertake the work on DRC alongside their regular mandates, did not give them the needed flexibility to react in a timely manner to developing situations. Ms Manjoo stated that follow-up to existing recommendations would be best served by the creation of a dedicated country-specific mandate on the DRC. This would enable the needed time to be given to ensuring a more regular engagement with the government and regional stakeholders in a fashion that was both sustainable and constructive.


Speaking as concerned country, the DRC flatly rejected the conclusions as presented in the joint report. The DRC claimed that the report was a compilation of reports from other sources, and that the mandate holders had failed to verify the information through observations on the ground. The report’s alleged deficiencies were largely attributed by the delegation to what it said was an absence of any requests for country visits by any of the seven special procedures during the reporting period. Furthermore, the DRC claimed it had formally requested meetings with the mandate holders in relation to its global action plan on implementation of recommendations for improvement of the human rights situation in the country (in accordance with resolution 13/22), but that such requests never received a reply. The DRC also asked that the technical assistance requested be given through the field office of the OHCHR.


Hungary (on behalf of the EU), the US, Canada, Belgium, and France all shared the grave concern expressed by the mandate holders, and strongly endorsed the report’s recommendations. Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary (on behalf of the EU), the US, Canada, Japan, and Luxembourg articulated particular concerns regarding the worsening situation facing human rights defenders, the media, and members of opposition parties – especially in light of upcoming elections scheduled to take place in November 2011. These States fully supported the creation of a single, country-specific mechanism as the best means of addressing a highly entrenched culture of impunity.


In contrast, Algeria reiterated the principle that any country mandate can only be effective if implemented with the full cooperation and support of the country concerned, and thus, the imposition of a country-specific mandate was not necessarily the best way of improving the human rights situation in the DRC. Zimbabwe echoed these remarks, claiming that establishing a country-specific mandate against the will of the DRC would not be helpful or productive. Instead, it called on the Council to ‘listen to the Government’ and provide it with adequate technical assistance.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 09:29
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