The United Nations said Thursday it regretted a new spike in human rights violations being committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, citing a report blaming the bulk of the violence on the police and army. The UN mission in Congo (MONUSCO) documented 704 violations across the country in October, including extra-judicial killings and rape, with children among the victims.
The peacekeeping mission said it represented a 60 percent rise in violations in two months, following 644 in September and 441 in August. The UN Human Rights Joint Office (UNJHRO) said the police, army and security services were “responsible for 442 violations (or 63 percent of violations), including the extra-judicial execution of 56 people”.
The rise in violence comes after an outbreak of street protests against the extended rule of President Joseph Kabila, who took office in 2001 and refused to step down at the end of his second and final term last December. The report also blamed armed groups in the country for infringing human rights 262 times.
“A number were summary executions, including the death of 135 civilians, of which 25 were women,” said Abdoul Aziz Thioye, from the UN. In one area, fighting pitting rival militias against each other in July saw 19 people killed, including a girl, with machetes, axes and arrows.
The report also says conflict-related sexual violence was committed against 60 adult victims and 20 children. More than 70 percent of violations in October were committed in provinces affected by conflict, including Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika, according to the report.
The UNJHRO also said it is “extremely concerned” about growing restrictions of the democratic space, citing “136 documented violations” in October. At least five soldiers, two police officers and three members of armed groups have been sentenced for violating human rights in DR Congo, the report said.
On Monday, the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), highly influential bishops, released a report deploring the “disproportionate use of force” by the police. It said police and security forces killed at least 53 protesters during anti-government demonstrations between April and October.