December 13, 2009

Recommendations

To the Congolese Government and Army

  • Cease immediately all attacks on civilians. Urgently put into place measures and mechanisms to deter, prevent and punish violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Congolese army soldiers.
  • Develop with United Nations assistance a clear strategy for civilian protection, with specific attention to protecting women and girls.
  • Develop with the UN and other international partners a comprehensive multi-pronged disarmament strategy for armed groups, including the FDLR (see below).
  • Immediately establish safe humanitarian corridors, protected with MONUC peacekeepers where possible, to permit Rwandan refugees and FDLR dependents who wish to return to Rwanda to do so in safety and dignity.
  • Take the following measures in response to the serious human rights violations committed by Congolese army soldiers and to implement the declared policy of “zero tolerance” of abuses:
    • Conduct impartial and credible investigations into the serious violations of human rights and war crimes committed during operations Umoja Wetu and Kimia II. Discipline or prosecute as appropriate those responsible, regardless of rank or position.
    • Suspend from operational command officers implicated in serious human rights or laws of war violations pending investigation, including Lt. Col. Innocent Zimurinda.
    • Instruct judicial authorities to immediately arrest Gen. Bosco Ntaganda and to transfer him to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
    • Instruct judicial authorities to immediately re-arrest Col. Jean-Pierre Biyoyo, who was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2006 for child soldier recruitment but escaped from prison later that year.
    • Introduce a vetting mechanism for the Congolese army to remove military officers implicated in serious human rights abuse, including those newly integrated from the CNDP and other armed groups.
    • Strengthen the capacity of the military justice system by devoting greater resources for investigations.
    • Establish a special chamber with Congolese and international judges and prosecutors within the Congolese justice system. The chamber’s mandate should be to prosecute serious violations of international humanitarian law, including sexual violence, and should include the capacity to investigate and prosecute senior military and civilian officials responsible for crimes, including as a matter of command responsibility.
  • Increase cooperation with the UN’s DDRRR efforts to encourage FDLR and other foreign combatants to disarm voluntarily and return to Rwanda. Take all necessary measures to end immediately attacks, threats and intimidation by Congolese forces against DDRRR staff and their bases and to cooperate fully with their efforts.
  • To discourage looting and other abuses, ensure all soldiers receive a regular and adequate salary. Create military barracks that provide a base for soldiers and their families.

To the FDLR Leadership

  • Cease immediately all attacks on civilians. Take all necessary measures, including making public statements, to ensure that FDLR forces do not commit human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war.
  • Carry out investigations into war crimes committed by FDLR forces and take appropriate disciplinary measures against any member of the FDLR, regardless of rank, found responsible.
  • Stop blocking the return of Rwandan refugees to Rwanda. Support the establishment of safe humanitarian corridors to allow refugees to return home.

To the Rwandan Government

  • Cooperate with Congolese and other judicial investigations into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Rwandan armed forces during operation Umoja Wetu. Ensure that any commanders or soldiers found responsible are disciplined or prosecuted as appropriate, including as a matter of command responsibility.
  • Publish an updated list of current FDLR combatants who are wanted on charges of genocide.

To the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC)

  • Immediately cease all support to operation Kimia II until there are clear, measurable and actionable conditions in place to ensure the operation does not violate international humanitarian law and until all known commanders with a record of human rights abuses have been removed from any operational responsibilities. Make the conditions public.
  • In cooperation with Congolese justice officials, arrest Bosco Ntaganda. Make his arrest a condition for future support to the Congolese army.
  • Establish “protection support bases” in areas where civilians are most at risk. Deploy civilian and military teams to such bases, including protection specialists for a minimum of two months to build confidence with the local population and authorities. Use such bases to help state authorities reestablish security for the civilian population.
  • Urgently develop a civilian protection plan with specific responsibilities for both civilian and military staff. Include critical elements of the protection plan in the memoranda of understanding between MONUC and troop contributing countries, in the rules of engagement, and in directives from the Force Commander. Regularly assess its effectiveness. Such a plan should include, but not be limited to:
    • Ensuring that MONUC troops are deployed to areas that are designated as “must protect” within fourteen days, but that patrols are sent immediately.
    • Ensuring that MONUC field base commanders are in regular communication with local authorities, traditional chiefs, and civil society and displaced person representatives in their area of responsibility, with special attention given to women’s groups and to identifying the risks to civilians and mitigating such risks.
    • Ensuring that all MONUC field bases have sufficient interpreters available around the clock and seven days a week.
    • Ensuring that MONUC peacekeepers carry out regular foot and vehicle patrols to the areas most at risk in their area of responsibility, as well as escorts to civilians, and women and girls in particular, who are traveling along potentially dangerous roads or paths to their fields, to the market or to collect firewood or water, and to displaced people either fleeing violence or returning to their village of origin along roads or paths where they may be at risk of attack.
    • Ensuring the removal of all illegal roadblocks in their area of responsibility.
  • Give priority to implementation of the comprehensive strategy to combat sexual violence, launched by MONUC in April 2009, and ensure it is integrated into MONUC’s protection strategy.
  • Ensure that the DDRRR program has adequate human and other resources and the support needed from other components of MONUC to carry out its tasks, including sufficient radio transmitters, vehicles, access to MONUC helicopters, interpreters, and more resources devoted to information collection and intelligence gathering on FDLR movements, leadership structure, chain of command, financial support, and recruitment efforts.

To the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the European Union, the United States, and Other International Donors

  • In line with UN Security Council Resolution 1894 to advance and ensure protection of civilians, urgently deploy a Civilian Protection Expert Group to eastern Congo to inquire into, and rapidly report on, civilian protection needs and challenges, including: (a) attacks against civilians, gender specific violence, and abuses against children by all parties in violation of international humanitarian law; (b) measures taken by MONUC to implement its mission-wide strategy on protection of civilians; and (c) the extent to which protection of civilians is sufficiently integrated into the Concept of Operations (CONOPS). The Civilian Protection Expert Group should recommend concrete measures to advance the protection of civilians, ensure unhindered humanitarian access and assistance, and end impunity for serious crimes in violation of international law.
  • Ensure MONUC has the means to carry out its mandate, including the urgent deployment of additional peacekeepers authorized in November 2008, and the rapid response capabilities, helicopters, and intelligence gathering support the mission has requested to provide civilian protection.
  • Develop a new and comprehensive approach for disarming armed groups, including the FDLR, that emphasizes protection of civilians, apprehending those wanted for crimes in violation of international law, a reformed disarmament and demobilization program, and options for temporary resettlement of combatants and their dependents within or outside of Congo, among other measures.
  • Conduct in-country investigations on the participation of the FDLR leadership in Europe and elsewhere on the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity documented in this report, with particular attention on Ignace Murwanashyaka, based in Germany and currently under arrest for his role in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in eastern Congo, and Callixte Mbarushimana, based in France.
  • Open up contact with the FDLR to explore options for temporary resettlement of FDLR combatants and their families within Congo or to a third country as agreed between the Rwandan and Congolese government in the Nairobi communiqué of November 2007.
  • Implement changes to the memoranda of understanding (MOU) with troop contributing countries to permit greater flexibility and fewer limitations on the  physical location of troop deployment, the number of field bases, and the structural requirements necessary before a temporary base is established.
  • Ensure that MONUC peacekeepers receive appropriate training on civilian protection before being deployed.
  • Ensure that there is a significant human rights component in current security sector reform programs, including the creation of a vetting mechanism.
  • Support measures to strengthen the military justice system and to create a special chamber to prosecute serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Congo, as described above.
  • Separate the UN human rights section from MONUC’s peacekeeping mission, with a direct reporting line to OHCHR to ensure it has the ability to investigate and report independently, credibly, and effectively on human rights violations by all sides.

To UN High Commissioner for Refugees

  • Encourage and provide assistance to the establishment of safe humanitarian corridors to facilitate the return of Rwandan refugees.
  • Increase the number of re-groupment sites and sensitization efforts for the repatriation of Rwandan Hutu refugees living in more remote areas such as the region between Nyabiondo and Pinga.

 

To the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

  • As part of ongoing investigations in North and South Kivu, investigate the serious crimes committed by perpetrators from all sides since January 2009 including those documented in this report.  Reopen investigations on alleged war crimes committed by Bosco Ntaganda to include serious crimes committed in both the Ituri District and the Kivu region such as those in the Shalio Hill area in April 2009, the massacre at Kiwanja in November 2008, and ethnic massacres in Ituri including those at Mongbwalu in November 2002, among others.

 

Key Players

The Congolese Armed Forces (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo, FARDC):  The Congolese national army, FARDC, created in 2003 has an estimated strength of 120,000 soldiers, many from former rebel groups who were incorporated following various peace deals. About half of the Congolese army is deployed in eastern Congo. Since 2006, the government has twice attempted to integrate the 6,000 strong rebel CNDP, but failed each time. In early 2009 a third attempt was made to incorporate the CNDP as well as other remaining rebel groups, a process known as “fast track accelerated integration.” Many who agreed to integrate, however, remained loyal to their former rebel commanders, raising serious doubts about the sustainability of the process.

National Congress for the Defense of the People (Congrès national pour la défense du people, CNDP): The CNDP is a Rwandan-backed rebel group launched in July 2006 by the renegade Tutsi general, Laurent Nkunda, to defend, protect, and ensure political representation for the several hundred thousand Congolese Tutsi living in eastern Congo, and some 44,000 Congolese refugees, most of them Tutsi, living in Rwanda. It is estimated to have some 6,000 combatants, including a significant number recruited in Rwanda; many of its officers are Tutsi. On January 5, 2009, Nkunda was ousted as leader by his military chief of staff, Bosco Ntaganda, and subsequently detained in Rwanda. Ntaganda, wanted on an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, abandoned the three-year insurgency and integrated the CNDP’s troops into the government army. On April 26, 2009, the CNDP established itself as a political party.

Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Les Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, FDLR): The FDLR is a Hutu militia group based in eastern Congo, some of whose leaders participated in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. It seeks to overthrow the government of Rwanda and promote greater political representation of Hutu. In late 2008, the FDLR was estimated to have at least 6,000 combatants, controlling large areas of North and South Kivu, including many key mining areas. The FDLR’s president and supreme commander is Ignace Murwanashyaka, based in Germany. He was arrested on November 17, 2009, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The group’s military commander in eastern Congo is Gen. Sylvester Mudacumura. The Congolese government has often supported and shown general tolerance for the FDLR, until early 2009 when its policy changed and the government launched military operations against the group.

Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD)-Urunana:  RUD-Urunana is a splinter group of the FDLR estimated at some 400 combatants based in North Kivu, made up largely of dissident FDLR combatants. It was created in 2004 by the United States-based former FDLR 1st vice-president, Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro. Other political leaders are in Europe and North America. Since the start of military operations against RUD and the FDLR in January 2009, the two groups have reunited militarily.

Mai Mai militia: The Mai Mai militia groups are local defense groups often organized on an ethnic basis who have traditionally fought alongside the government army against “foreign invaders,” including the CNDP and other Rwandan-backed rebel groups. In 2009 there were over 22 Mai Mai groups, ranging greatly in size and effectiveness, in both North and South Kivu. Some joined the Congolese army as part of the rapid integration process, while others refused, angry at the perceived preferential treatment given to the CNDP and unwilling to join the army unless they were able to stay in their communities. The various Mai Mai groups are estimated to have some 8,000 to 12,000 combatants.

Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance (Coalition des patriotes résistants congolais, PARECO):  PARECO is the largest of the Mai Mai groups, created in March 2007 by joining various other ethnic-based Mai Mai militias including from the Congolese Hutu, Hunde, and Nande ethnic groups. Throughout 2007 and 2008, PARECO collaborated closely with the FDLR and received substantial support from the Congolese army, especially in their battles against the CNDP. In 2009, many PARECO combatants, particularly the Hutu, joined the Congolese army and its military commander, Mugabu Baguma, was made a colonel. The Hunde and Nande commanders were not offered equivalent command positions and remained outside the integration process, along with the majority of the Hunde and Nande combatants

Patriotic Alliance for a Free and Sovereign Congo (Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain, APCLS):  The APCLS is a breakaway faction of PARECO. Created in April 2008, it is largely made up of ethnic Hunde and is led by General Janvier Buingo Karairi. It is based in the area to the north of Nyabiondo, in western Masisi, with its headquarters in Lukweti village and has an estimated 500 to 800combatants. The APCLS is allied with the FDLR and refuses to integrate into the Congolese army without guarantees that they will be deployed in their home region and that the newly integrated CNDP soldiers will leave.