Congo. According to COUNTRYAAH, Democratic Republic of the Congo has a population of 84.07 million (2018). Congo gained the most attention during the year for the rapes committed by militia soldiers in the eastern provinces. About 500 women, girls, toddlers and boys were raped in July and August in 13 villages in the Walika region of the Northern Kivu province. As perpetrators, members of a local Mai Mai militia, the Rwandan hutumilis FDLR (Rwanda Democratic Forces Liberation), and supporters of an army deserter were identified. The main focus of the world on the crimes was Margot Wallström, responsible within the UN for coordinating work on sexual violence in connection with armed conflicts. It was later reported that army soldiers had also abused women in the same region.
In October, Indian UN soldiers seized the leader of the designated Mai Mai movement. In France, Callixte Mbarushimana, high ranking leader of the FDLR, was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on eleven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was held responsible for a wide range of civilian abuse in the Kivu region and, according to a French court decision, was to be extradited to the ICC.
At the ICC in November, the trial of Congo’s former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba began. He is charged with five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the abuses committed by members of his militia’s MLC (Congo Liberation Movement) against civilians in the Central African Republic in 2002–03.
In Kinshasa, eight police officers were indicted for the murder of one of the country’s best known human rights activists, Floribert Chebeya. He was found dead in his car, strapped to the back seat, the day after he had been called to the police headquarters. His driver had disappeared and was not found. Chief of Police John Numbi, whom Chebeya should have met, was suspended from his post but was not prosecuted, as the court did not have the power to prosecute a chief at that level.
In May, eleven militiamen were sentenced to death for a revolt in the city of Mbandaka in the northwest province of Equateur. Two UN officials were killed during the revolt, triggered by a local dispute over fishing rights.
The two Norwegian former mercenaries who were sentenced to death in 2009 in the city of Kisangani for the murder of their driver received a new trial, after a court found that formal wrongdoing had been committed by the military tribunal they were investigating. But when the trial was resumed with new judges, the ruling became a new death sentence. They decided not to appeal. Since 2001, death sentences in Congo have been converted to life imprisonment. The Norwegians hope is that the Norwegian state will be able to work out that they can serve the punishment in their home country.
Nineteen donor countries in the so-called Paris Club as well as Brazil agreed to write off the entire Congo debt to them of US $ 7.35 billion as part of the United Nations Relief Program for particularly troubled countries. As a result, the country was freed from more than half its total foreign debt.
Earlier in the year, the UN was notified that Ukraine had signed a contract for the sale of arms and ammunition to the Congo at a stated value of approximately US $ 80 million.
Militia leaders are convicted of crimes against humanity
Ntabo Ntaberi, a former leader of the Nduma militia’s defense of the Congo (NDC) in North Kivu, is sentenced by a military court in Goma to life in prison for crimes against humanity. He is convicted of murder, rape, sexual slavery and the recruitment of child soldiers. The trial against him has been going on for two years and 178 witnesses have been heard. An arrest warrant for Ntaberi, also known as Sheka, was issued in 2011. He was then charged with a series of raids on villages in North Kivu. NDC members were then accused of committing 400 rapes and killing 300 people, along with members of two other militia groups. In addition to Ntaberi, a leader of another militia group is also sentenced to life in prison.
Tshisekedi is trying to resolve disputes with Kabila’s alliance
President Félix Tshisekedi is now making great efforts to resolve the crisis between his own and ex-President Kabila’s camp in politics. The president’s ability to pursue his own policies is hampered by the strong position of the Kabila Alliance FCC in government, parliament and provincial assemblies. A conflict concerns the appointment of three judges to the powerful Constitutional Council despite opposition from the FCC. When the verdicts were due to take effect in October, Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga, the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate, chose not to attend. The contradictions have also led to the Ceni Electoral Commission without a board, since the mandates for the members expired in June 2019. Without a functioning election commission, it will be difficult to conduct the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023. In his attempts to lock the situation, Tshisekedi Ceni hits.