Clear trends of human rights abuses have developed in eastern Congo since early August 1998. The RCD, supported by regular troops of the Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundian militaries have committed a range of abuses against Congolese civilians, including deliberate killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, disappearances, harassment of human rights defenders, abuses against women, and recruitment of child soldiers in efforts to combat Interahamwe and Mai-Mai insurgencies and to exert political control over opposition voices.58 Unlike the 1996-1997 conflict, when many of the victims were Rwandan and Burundian refugees, the present war has involved abuses against Congolese from almost all major ethnic groups in eastern Congo. Residual refugee populations from Rwanda and Burundi, many of which had integrated themselves into local communities, were also targeted for attack by RCD forces.
While the current level of human rights abuses against civilians in eastern Congo is already cause for serious concern, the situation risks further deterioration and even more egregious abuses. The growing number of armed groups in the eastboth militia and national armies, often with tensions among alleged alliesconstitute a real threat to the civilian population. A primary concern is the large number of abuses committed against civilians in areas of combat between Interahamwe and Mai-Mai militia and their adversaries from the RCD and its allies.59 The militia groups use guerrilla warfare tactics against the RCD forces, which is often followed by heavy-handed reprisals against civilians by the RCD military. This has led to the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Katanga. Militia in North Kivu attack civilian vehicles, strangling local economies and makingtravel dangerous outside of urban centers. All sides act in an atmosphere of effective impunity with little or no regard for the protection of civilians, which fuels the cycles of attacks and counter-attacks.
Victims and witnesses of abuses in eastern Congo frequently described perpetrators as Rwandan, Banyamulengue, or Tutsi military allied with the RCD, but were often unable to conclusively identify them as belonging to a particular army. Establishing the national identity of perpetrators was complicated by the fact that some Tutsi military among the Rwandan and Ugandan forces were born in Congo but have lived in all three countries; Kinyarwanda and Swahili are spoken in all three countries; and the use of uniforms by RCD forces was often haphazard. Commanders fighting on behalf of the RCD frequently wore civilian clothes and, in an apparent attempt to further hide their identity, often used their first names or pseudonyms only. Many residents of the east claimed that the RCD military was dominated by Tutsi from the Rwandan, Ugandan, Burundian or Congolese armies, increasing resentment among other Congolese ethnic groups vis-à-vis Tutsi in general. This development has further complicated long-standing conflicts in eastern Congo over customary power, land, administrative posts, and nationality, and may endanger the long-term protection of the rights of Tutsi in Congo.60
Despite their administrative role throughout territory under their control, RCD civilian and military authorities lacked control over their foreign allies, including Rwandan, Burundian, and Ugandan forces. This weakened their ability to respect human rights in territory under their control, despite their public commitments to uphold international human rights standards.61 One Congolese commander of RCD forces told Human Rights Watch that he did not have control over the actions of the Rwandan commander allegedly serving as his deputy.62 This Rwandan commander was one of several in the east who was repeatedly cited by victims and witnesses as being responsible for numerous cases of arrests, illegal detentions, and disappearances.
This report highlights several patterns of human rights violations by RCD forces. The cases described below illustrate the kinds of abuses being perpetrated by RCD forces and clearly establish the need for further investigation and punishment of those found responsible.
Extrajudicial Executions and Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians
Civilians have been the primary victims of the conflict in eastern Congo. Forces aligned with the RCD committed summary executions in eastern Congo from August to early January in eastern Congo. Executions of unarmed civilians often were carried out near areas of combat between militia and RCD forces, while other killings took place in detention centers or following arrests. Most large-scale killings took place in South Kivu, where combat between RCD forces and militia was frequent. Human Rights Watch received numerous reports of extrajudicial executions by RCD forces which continued at the time of this writing, in January 1999.
The most well-known and possibly the largest massacre of civilians took place on August 24 in villages near Kasika in the Lwindi collectivity of South Kivu. The killings were carried out by RCD forces who had sufferedcasualties following an ambush by Mai-Mai in the Lwindi collectivity on August 23. Reportedly angered by the deaths of several officers during the ambush, the RCD forces, described by witnesses as Rwandan and Ugandan or Banyamulenge, attacked the Catholic church at Kasika the following day where they killed thirty-seven civilians, including the Abbey Stanislas, three sisters, and parishioners.63 Many witnesses and residents of Bukavu considered the killings as a punishment for the Mai-Mai ambush the day before. Others were killed in the surrounding communities; estimates of the total number of dead, probably at least several hundred, and the extent of destruction of houses and other infrastructure were impossible to verify due to poor security conditions and, in particular, uncertainty regarding the protection of witnesses.64
The RCD forces continued killing near the house of the traditional chief of Lwindi, Mr. Mubeza, where approximately twenty-nine people were executed, including the chief and his family, according to a local church official.65 Many victims were executed by machete or other sharp objects; a smaller number were shot.66 One church official stated that a nun had been cut entirely in two from the head through the entire body.67 Many bodies of children and babies were found in latrines. One witness interviewed by Human Rights Watch had identified many of the church officials before their burial in Kasika and assisted with the extrication of corpses and children survivors from latrines.68
On August 24, the RCD forces carried out a scorched earth campaign along the main road through the Lwindi collectivity, killing civilians and burning houses. Among the villages attacked in this fashion were Kilongutwe, Kalama, and Kalambi. Several Congolese investigators who had participated in burials and/or investigations in the days following the massacres claimed that the RCD forces destroyed many houses, at times burning civilians alive inside them.69 Most of the killings took place in Kilongutwe, where it was market day. The destruction of civilian infrastructure, displacement of much of the local population, and widespread fear resulting from the killings continued to make it difficult for residents in the Kasika-Mwenga area to find food, water, or access to health care. Many villagers had not yet returned to their homes as of December.
Authorities from the RCD have publicly acknowledged that these killings were carried out by their own forces and appointed a commission to investigate the incident, headed by the Department of Justice and Human Rights. However, as of early January 1998, the commission of inquiry had failed to conduct any investigation of the killings,and was evidently being stalled by the military authorities.70 RCD authorities claimed that several factors had blocked the commission, including the failure of the military to appoint a member to the commission, and a lack of funds.
While the killings in the Kasika area and other reports of human rights abuses have not been publicly investigated by the RCD, the RCD has proven its capacity to investigate and draw attention to human rights violations committed by Kabilas forces, including the killing of Tutsi. A report from the Department of Justice and Human Rights on violations from August to September 1998 was devoted almost entirely to abuses committed by the Kinshasa government, making only a passing reference to the killings at Kasika.71 The report included an analysis of the norms of international law violated by Kabilas forces and recommended that Kabila and his allies be held accountable for abuses. The RCD made resources available for a televised exhumation and reburial ceremony on December 9 in Uvira of Congolese Tutsi, reportedly civilians killed in Kalemie and Vyura by forces loyal to Kabila.
The Kalehe-Kabare area of South Kivu was another site of fighting between RCD allies and militia that was followed by RCD reprisals against civilians. On the night of October 21 and October 22, RCD forces reportedly killed ten residents, including the village chief Kashera, in the village of Bushaku, in Kalehe.72 RCD forces based in Lemera, a few kilometers from Bushaku, attacked residents of Bushaku due to a suspicion that they were supporting Mai-Mai and Interahamwe.73 In addition to the killings, twenty-six houses were burnedthe bodies of the ten killed were inside some of themand others were looted. This pattern of fighting between militia and RCD forces followed by RCD reprisal attacks against civilians continued in the area at least into December.
Killings by RCD forces also took place during the night of December 3 and 4, near the villages of Chipaho and Lemera in South Kivu, where traders and other civilians were going to the market.74 Many of those killed, suspected of being supporters of the Mai-Mai, were palm oil merchants who had left their homes in the Katana-Kalehe area at night to arrive for the morning market in Chipaho. The traders had received permission from RCD authorities in Katana and Kalehe to travel this route in order to circumvent other roads presumed to be more dangerous due to fighting. Bodies of the dead were found in the Lemera area by travelers on the morning of December 4. While survivors in a local hospital and family members of the victims provided the names of fifteen men, women, and children who were killed in the Chipaho-Lemera area on that night, the total number of dead is likely to be significantly higher.75 Most of the victims were killed by bayonet, machete, or other hand weapons.
Reports from organizations working with refugee populations in South Kivu described attacks on Burundian Hutu refugees in South Kivu by RCD forces and their allies. On several occasions, RCD forces reportedly rounded up groups of refugees who had integrated themselves into the local communities. One report described three round-ups which took place at the weekly market at Runingo, in the Uvira area, on August 15, August 22, and August 29 of twenty-two, eighteen, and eight refugees respectively.76 Refugees were also rounded up from their homes inKaliba on the night of November 28 and 29.77 On each occasion, the refugees were loaded onto military trucks and not seen again.
Fighting between the Congolese governments FAC and the RCD in Uvira from August 4 to 7 also led to widespread abuses against civilians. Apparently in reprisal for their own losses, the rebel military reportedly arrested and killed many civilians suspected of opposing the RCD in the days that followed their takeover of the town. Volunteers with the local Red Cross reportedly buried dozens of civilians, mostly men killed by bullets from August 4 to 11. Human Rights Watch is in possession of a list of 119 names of these victims including their addresses and occupations. A participant in the burials told Human Rights Watch some bodies were tied up, some had their penises chopped off, there were also bodies of young women, aged fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and nineteen, with their underclothes to one side who had been raped and killed. A few victims had been tortured.78
Uvira residents reported the disappearance of many young men who were detained in safe houses in the luxurious Quartier des Biens Mal Acquis neighborhood that rebel commanders and their men expropriated for their private use after the eviction of many owners and tenants. One particular residence of an RCD commander was dubbed the slaughterhouse by Uvira residents because of the torture and killings which reportedly took place behind its walls.79 Following many complaints from the population, the killings and looting by RCD forces in Uvira subsided for about two months, reportedly after the replacement of the military commander of the town in mid-October.
However, this more positive trend seems to have been shattered with reports of a massacre in and around the village of Makobola, approximately fifteen kilometers south of Uvira. Over the New Year period, hundreds of civilians in this area were killed by RCD forces and their backers.80 Among those killed were volunteer Red Cross workers, and Catholic and Protestant priests with members of their families.81 The massacre was reportedly in reprisal for rebel losses in confrontations the previous day with Mai-Mai. Following initial pledges to investigate the incident, members of the RCD leadership issued stern denials that civilians were killed at Makobola.82 As was the case following the Kasika massacre, this again put in question the Rally's stated commitment to uphold the rule of law, respect human rights, and to protect civilians in areas it controls.
The various militia in eastern Congo that are fighting the RCD and its allies also committed abuses against the civilian population. It was unclear to what extent these forces were coordinated or even if they were fighting on behalf of the Congolese government. Residents of eastern Congo claimed that Interahamwe and Mai-Mai militia demanded food, supplies, and monetary support from civilian populations. Since unarmed villagers had little choice but to accept the militia and their demands, their presence put the residents in direct danger of reprisal attacks by RCD forces. The militia were also responsible for attacks on civilian vehicles, including seventeen alone during the month of October on the Goma-Rutshuru road.83 At roadblocks set up throughout eastern Congo, Mai-Mai and Interahamwe demanded fees from travelers and merchants.
In addition to hit-and-run attacks on RCD forces in the east, militia would occasionally attack and temporarily hold villages or larger urban centers. The most significant of these incidents was the September 14 attack on Goma by militia, described by the local population as Mai-Mai and/or Interahamwe. During their brief control of Goma, they killed a number of civilians, including a group of twelve Tutsi who had sought refuge at Ndosho orphanage. Thetwelve had fled killings of Tutsi in Kisangani. Among the dead were four children and one infant.84 As was frequently the case, attacks such as these led to reprisals against civilians when the RCD forces recaptured towns. Several examples of such reprisals are described below.
Other armed groups, including forces of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) operating in the Congo, which intervened presumably on the side of the RCD, also committed abuses against civilian populations in eastern Congo. In early October, some 17,000 Sudanese refugees were chased back to Yambio in southern Sudan, following attacks on their settlements in the Dungu area of northeastern Congo by SPLA troops. In a statement issued on October 8, the UNHCR complained that SPLA soldiers ransacked its offices in Dungu and Doruma and stole its vehicles and communication equipment.85 Other humanitarian sources and local monitoring groups also reported wide scale looting by SPLA soldiers of vehicles, dispensaries, and food supplies in the area during September, and their forcible recruitment of refugees. The looting also caused many civilians to abandon their homes and fields.86
Arbitrary Arrests, Illegal Detentions, and Disappearances
The RCD military and the Rwandan, Burundian, and Ugandan forces supporting them have been responsible for a pattern of arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, and disappearances.87 The rate of these abuses varied over time and differed between provinces in the east. Arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, and disappearances in North Kivu have decreased significantly since August and September, apparently due to efforts by the RCD military and civilian authorities to respond to cases raised by lawyers and human rights defenders.88 In Goma, several NGOs stated that regional pacification committees, originally set up under Kabila, had also been used by the RCD to help resolve conflicts and cases of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention. While these violations continue, the efforts by RCD authorities to eliminate illegal detention centers and reduce arbitrary arrests and disappearances have increased the generally low levels of public confidence in the RCD administration in North Kivu.
In South Kivu, however, these types of violations continued at an elevated rate into December, highlighted by a wave of arrests and intimidation of academics, NGO leaders, and other members of civil society in late November and early December. RCD authorities and their military allies frequently accused those arrested of being collaborators with Mai-Mai, Interahamwe, or of being distributors of hate propaganda. These arrests contributed to the unpopularity of RCD authorities and to public indignation regarding the presence of Rwandan, Burundian, and Ugandan military forces, as well as to a resentment of ethnic Tutsi in general.
Human Rights Watch interviewed present and former detainees and prisoners of war (POWs) in the east, including some who had been held in illegal detention centers. Some arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions were accompanied by killings, torture, and inhumane treatment by RCD and allied forces. Human Rights Watchinterviewed survivors from a group of approximately forty-eight young men and one young woman, most of whom were arrested by RCD military on September 14 in Goma in the wake of the Mai-Mai attack on the town. The forty-nine detainees were held by the military in a shipping container at Goma International Airport without food, water, or ventilation. The shipping container, typical of many used as detention centers in the east, measured approximately six feet by six feet by fifteen feet with no windows or light. By September 16, twenty-seven of the detainees had died of suffocation. Three of the survivors, who had helped with removal of the bodies, had scars on their backs which corresponded with their testimony that the military had cut them with knives and beat them during their arrest.89
During a site visit by Human Rights Watch to a container at Goma International Airport, an RCD military commander confirmed that he had used shipping containers there until mid- to late-November as holding places for civilians arrested by RCD military and their allies. The commander stated that the containers, empty upon inspection by Human Rights Watch, were presently used only for short-term detentions and that he now transferred prisoners to the appropriate civilian or military authorities in Goma.90
Other containers and private residences throughout the east are reportedly still in use as detention centers, especially for those suspected of collaboration with Interahamwe or Mai-Mai. One young man arrested near Goma in early October by Kinyarwanda-speaking members of the RCD military told Human Rights Watch he was held for two days without food or water in a container located in a quarry just north of Goma. He said four of the approximately fifteen others held with him died from dehydration, exhaustion, and a lack of medical care on the second day of his detention. Many of the detainees, including those that died, were from the Monigi village on the northern outskirts of Goma, a predominantly Hutu area suspected of supporting Interahamwe. The young man was subsequently transferred to a private residence in Goma, known as the house of Mr. Hakazimana, where he was held for approximately two months. He said the approximately ten detainees who were held in this residence were beaten four times a day, fed every other day, and forced to use a hole in the floor of their holding room for a toilet. According to the young man, some of the detainees were transferred to Rwanda. After almost two months in detention, the young man was transferred to the jail of the RCD army known as Bureau two where he was interrogated by a judicial police officer and accused of being Interahamwe. The young man was released without explanation in early December. One of his arms, still in a bandage when interviewed by Human Rights Watch on December 6, was partially paralyzed from being tied for extended periods of time during his detention.91
Other illegal detention centers in the east were reportedly located at the homes of Rwandan and Congolese military commanders in cities throughout the east, including Uvira, Bukavu, and Goma. One such center was located at the residence of an RCD officer in Goma known locally as commander Celestin,92 who was reportedly a member of the Rwandan army. One former detainee at this residence described how he and other detainees were beaten and tortured in Commander Celestins custody and, upon their release, threatened with death if they spoke about their experience.93 An RCD military commander confirmed that the location had been used for detentions up until late November.94 One room previously used for detentions was being cleaned during the Human Rights Watch visit. Commander Celestin had reportedly been transferred to Rwanda following protests from lawyers and human rights defenders about the detentions and inhumane treatment at his residence. Human Rights Watch received numerous other reports of detention centers still in use at private residences commandeered by RCD military in Northand South Kivu. One woman interviewed by Human Rights Watch claimed that her husband was being held in the residence of a Rwandan commander in Goma known locally as commander Ngoyi.95 When asked why her husband was arrested, she claimed that if youre Hutu, youre Interahamwe; if youre Hunde, youre Mai-Mai. There is no other motivation. Many Congolese in the east felt that the RCD and their predominantly Tutsi military allies were arresting Congolese based on their ethnicity alone.
Many individuals arrested by the RCD military were never acknowledged to be in detention, they disappeared and remain unaccounted for. One such incident occurred in late November when nine men were abducted by troops during a service at the Neo-Apostolic church in the village of Monigi. Witnesses including the wives of the disappeared claimed that the men had been abducted by Rwandan forces and that the nine had been taken to Rwanda.96 Witnesses recognized one of the soldiers that had grown up in Monigi and later joined the Rwandan army. As of mid-December, RCD authorities had not provided information on the whereabouts of the nine. Many human rights reports received by Human Rights Watch claimed that people abducted were transferred to Rwanda, with some sources claiming prisoners were sent to a detention center at Rugerero in Gisenyi prefecture. One high-ranking RCD official confirmed that individuals arrested in eastern Congo were at times transferred to Rwanda.97 Other reports claimed that arrests followed by disappearances were frequently carried out by members of the RPAs own troops in the Congo. Numerous witnesses cited commander Gapari in Goma and commanders Pascal and Ilias in Bukavu, all reportedly members of the RPA, as being responsible for many incidents of arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, including at their own residences, and ill-treatment in Goma and Bukavu.
Harassment of Human Rights Defenders
Despite few guarantees for their security, members of civil society and human rights defenders in eastern Congo attempted to continue their efforts to protect and promote human rights. Working conditions ranged from province to province: most NGOs in North Kivu and Kisangani were able to operate openly and discuss human rights concerns with RCD military and civilian authorities, while in South Kivu, NGOs worked under significant pressure, some in clandestinity.
After the outbreak of war in August, several members of NGOs fled the east following threats, harassment of their organizations, or visits to their homes by RCD military. The RCD encouraged the members of several NGOs to join the RCD and harassed them when they refused.98 As was the case under the Kabila administration, members of NGOs which had reported on killings of Burundian and Rwandan refugees in 1996 and 1997 were at particular risk, due to the continued presence of the Rwandan military, who were implicated in the massacres.99 People whosigned public documents discussing the war, political situation, or human rights were also at risk. Many NGOs were hesitant to document and protest human rights abuses and instead limited their work to the promotion of peace or educational activities, areas considered less sensitive to the authorities.100
Several university professors and members of NGOs in Bukavu, such as the Groupe Jeremie, the Collective of Youth Organizations of South Kivu (COJESKI), and the Coordination Office of the Civil Society were arrested during a wave of arrests in late November and early December. RCD authorities, including the governor and RCD coordinator of South Kivu, accused various institutions of civil society of being responsible for disseminating anti-Tutsi hate speech and collaborating with Mai-Mai militia.101 In particular, the governor denounced a document entitled Plan for Peace developed by the Coordination Office of the Civil Society of South Kivu.102 The peace plan, addressed to the RCD, the Congolese government, the United Nations, and others, analyzed the human rights, humanitarian, political, and security situation in the east and called for an end to the conflict. Several individuals who signed this document were arrested or summoned for repeated interrogations by the RCD authorities; others fled or went into hiding due to threats from RCD military.
Abuses Against Women
Women accused of supporting Mai-Mai or Interahamwe militia have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture, including rape. On September 16 in Goma, RCD military arrested one woman they suspected of hiding Mai-Mai. The woman was held for three days in a pit near the northern end of Goma known as Jolis Bois where she was repeatedly beaten and forced to eat mud. Two months later, she still suffered from back injuries resulting from her beating
Human Rights Watch also received reports of rape by RCD military during cordon and search operations in late August in the Bagira and Kadutu residential areas of Bukavu. Young women were targeted for rape again in the Chimpunda area of Bukavu in mid September by military reportedly looking for arms or militia. One NGO that had interviewed women in the Kalehe area of South Kivu stated that women were beaten or raped by RCD military looking for Mai-Mai or Interahamwe in the countryside.103 Human Rights Watch received information from Kisangani indicating that rape, and other forms of sexual abuse of women by soldiers, was a growing problem there as well, leading local activists and other observers to express concern about the possible spread of AIDS as a long term consequence of this war.104
Recruitment of Child Soldiers
The rebel army reenlisted about a hundred demobilized child soldiers in early August from a transit center in Bukavu, and another 500 upon taking Kisangani in late August. The transit centers were part of an experimental program which UNICEF ran for former child soldiers in cooperation with the Congolese authorities. The former child soldiers learned technical skills and followed classes in the centers, prior to their reunification with their families. "The rebels went in and recruited the children who were there," a spokesperson for UNICEF complained.105 The RCD continued to recruit children for combat as recently as December 1998. Human Rights Watch interviewed severalboys from a group of new recruits from Bunia and Kisangani that varied in age from fifteen to seventeen. In Bukavu, RCD military had abducted or threatened to abduct children, apparently for use in the army, from several local organizations working with unaccompanied minors.106 While many other boys were among this group of recruits, the actual number of children recruited into RCD forces is unknown.
As noted, although international law currently prohibits the use of soldiers under the age of fifteen, Human Rights Watch supports the principle of an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that would raise the minimum legal age for soldiers to eighteen.
Web Site Address: http://www.hrw.org
46 Persons below the age of eighteen are considered children, (Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 2, 1990). All states are party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child except for the United States of America and Somalia.
47 Led by then-rebel Kabila, the Alliance des forces démocratique pour la libération du Congo (ADFL) was a coalition of political parties from eastern Congo that, with support from Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, and Burundi, overthrew Zairian President Mobutu in a seven-month war beginning in October 1996. For more details, see the following Human Rights Watch short reports: What Kabila is Hiding: Civilian Killings and Impunity in Congo, vol. 9, no. 5 (A), October, 1997; Uncertain Course: Transition and Human Rights Violations in the Congo, vol. 9, no. 9 (A), (also available in French).
48 Human Rights Watch interview with humanitarian agency, Kinshasa, November 15, 1998. The seven-year-old soldier had been seen by a doctor from the aid agency in the Kapalata demobilization camp near Kisangani early in 1998.
49 In mid-1997, national television featured a parade of what the government claimed were 5,900 FAC child soldiers in Mbuji-Mayi. Organizations involved in demobilization estimated that the total number in November had likely increased by several thousand.
50 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 38 (2) and (3).
51 "Décret-Loi No. 194 relatif aux partis et aux groupements politiques, signed on January 29, 1999, Daily Bulletin of the Congolese Press Agency (in French), Monday February 1, 1998.
53 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with UDPS spokespersons, New York / Brussels & Kinshasa, February 3, 1999.
54 "Congo - Kinshasa: DRCongo--Security forces raid party headquarters, Kinshasa, AFP, Dec. 16.
55 "Congo - Kinshasa: Kabila on Brussels visit, Congo conflict, Le Soir, Brussels, November 19, 1998.
56 The five were: Adrien Phongo, general secretary of the UDPS and Mukendi wa Mulumba, a lawyer and advisor to the partys leader; Kamitatu Masamba, leader of the Democratic and Social Christian Party; Bofassa Djema, leading member of the Popular Movement for the Revolution; and Kisimba Ngoy, a leader of the National Federalist Party.
57 A hand-picked constitutional committee handed a draft constitution to the president in March 1998 for approval. A procedure to create a constituent assembly was nominally established by the government in May to review the draft. Authorities adopted a cumbersome procedure for the selection of assembly members from lists of applicants who, by mid-June, had reportedly reached 10,000. The assembly was never formed. Instead, the task of reviewing the draft constitution was entrustedto a Technical Commission headed by the minister of justice after the war broke out.
58 "RCD military and its allies or RCD forces in this report refers to forces from the Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundian militaries, and/or members of the FAC (referred to as the RCD army) that have defected to the RCD and are under the command of Congolese officers.
59 Most of the abuses committed by the FAC and their allies in the front line areas are described in the western Congo section of this report.
60 These intertwined conflicts between different ethnic groups in eastern Congo have been exacerbated by the absence of rule of law by the governments of President Kabila and former President Mobutu. People whose ancestors were Rwandan have been subject to a number of changes in Congolese law which could arbitrarily deprive them of their right to nationality. These changes and a threat by the vice-governor of South-Kivu to expel Tutsi in 1996 were among the contributing factors to the 1996-1997 war. Many politicians and others in the Mobutu and Kabila administrations have sought to tailor nationality laws in a fashion that would exclude many ethnic Hutu and ethnic Tutsi from citizenship, thus depriving them of many important rights, including the right to vote and the right to hold office. See Human Rights Watch and FIDH report Forced to Flee.
61 During interviews with Human Rights Watch, RCD authorities repeatedly expressed their adherence to international human rights standards. In a public RCD Political Declaration delivered in Goma, August 12, 1998, they further proclaimed their recognition of the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and the international pacts.
62 Human Rights Watch interview with RCD military commander, December 8, 1998.
63 Details of the church killings were obtained by Human Rights Watch through a telephone interview with church officials in Kinshasa, New York, September 1, 1998. These details were confirmed by several witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Bukavu who had carried out investigations in Kasika.
64 Estimates vary of the total number of victims in the area of the four villages. One investigation conducted by individuals who participated in burials and spoke with witnesses claimed that the total number killed included sixty-six at Kasika, 618 at Kilongutwe, and approximately twenty in Kalambi. They claimed to have the names of the victims. Another investigation, carried out in part by witnesses of the events at Kasika, found that the total killed included 385 at Kasika, forty-three at Zokwe, ninety-five at Kalama, and 373 at Kilongutwe. This second investigation identified by name forty-two of the dead. Catholic clergy estimate that a total of over 1300 were killed during these incidents.
65 Human Rights Watch interview with official of Catholic church from Kasika area, Panzi, December 9, 1998.
66 "Massacres-Genocides at Kasika-Kilungutwe, territory of Mwenga, South Kivu by Tutsi rebel troops in DRC, report by the NGO CADDHOM, September 9, 1998.
67 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of one of the victims of Kasika, Bukavu, December 16, 1998.
68 Human Rights Watch interview with official of Catholic church from Kasika area, Panzi, December 9, 1998.
69 Report following field investigation by local NGO, Bukavu, September 9, 1998. In an interview with Human Rights Watch on December 15, 1998, the author of this report explained that in one village he looked inside a round, adobe hut which had been set afire with gasoline and saw a waist-high pile of the remains of bodies. The flesh and clothes of the victims had burned into a substance that looked like tar. Similar circumstances elsewhere made it impossible to tell how many people had been incinerated at this and other sites.
70 In addition to the Department of Justice and Human Rights, the commission was to include representatives from the Department of Territorial Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Governors Office of South Kivu, and the RCD army.
71 "Les Violations des droits de lHomme commises sur le territoire de la République Démocratique du Congo entre août et septembre 1998, Rapport Bimensuel, Department of Justice and Human Rights, Goma, September, 1998.
72 "Rapport on the massacres of people at Bushaku and Lemera, territory of Kalehe, 21-22 October, 1998, report from NGO in Kalehe, November 3, 1998. The author and researcher of the report, interviewed by Human Rights watch in Bukavu on December 9, provided the family names of the ten people killed, who included six children, one a ten-year-old girl.
74 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, December 10, 1998.
75 One investigator of a Congolese NGO who had interviewed survivors and visited the sites where killings took place stated that the total number of dead was sixty-six.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, Bujumbura, December 11, 1998.
77 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO, Bukavu, December 11, 1998.
78 Human Rights Watch interview with Congolese from Uvira, Bujumbura, December 12, 1998.
80 "500 Civilians Reportedly Massacred by Rebels in DRCongo, Agence France Presse, January 5, 1999.
81 Report from nongovernmental organization from Uvira, January 2, 1999.
82 Jude Webber, "Rebels Deny Congo New Year Massacre of 500, Reuters, January 5, 1999.
83 Human Rights Watch interview with traders in Goma market, December 4, 1998.
84 "Bimonthly Report: Human Rights Violations Committed in Congo between August and September 1998, Department of Justice and Human Rights, RCD, Goma, September, 1998.
85 "UNHCR expresses concern over forced returns to Sudan, UNHCR Press Release, October 8, 1998, Geneva.
86 Human Rights Watch interview, humanitarian NGO, Nairobi, November 25, 1998.
87 On December 18, 1992, in resolution 47/133, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which states that enforced disappearances occur when persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, thereby placing such persons outside the protection of the law. The governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, are subject to this declaration. While the RCD is not recognized as a government, it has publicly adhered to the international bill of human rights and claimed responsibility for protecting human rights in territory under its control.
88 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, November 19, 1998 and Goma, December 1, 1998.
89 Human Rights Watch interview with survivors, Goma, December 11, 1998.
90 Site visit to Goma International Airport by Human Rights Watch, December 5, 1998.
91 During an interview with Human Rights Watch in Goma on December 6, the subject was unable to use his arm.
92 Many RCD commanders, including those from the Rwandan and Ugandan militaries, often used first names only and sometimes changed their names or altered them to Congolese-sounding names. Many did not wear uniforms. These practices, similar to those used by Rwandan forces in Congo during the 1996-1997 war, complicated the identification of these officers.
93 Human Rights Watch interview with former detainee, Nairobi, November 28, 1998.
94 Site visit by Human Rights Watch, Goma, December 5, 1998.
95 Human Rights Watch interview, December 11, 1998. Ngoyi, a Congolese name, was reportedly one of the many officers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army fighting in Congo who had assumed Congolese names to hide their identity.
96 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer of the wives of the nine victims, Goma, December 5, 1998. One of the military involved in the abduction was a Congolese from Monigi who had joined the RPA.
97 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, December 1, 1998.
98 Human Rights Watch interviews with human rights NGOs in Goma and Bukavu, December 4 and December 7, 1998.
99 This pressure on rights activists increased dramatically following an incident, in early April 1998, in which the Congolese government arrested an investigator from the U.N. Secretary-Generals Investigative Team (UNSGIT) in Goma and expelled him to Kinshasa, where government officials seized and photocopied sensitive documents, including names of informants and their signatures on their testimonies about the massacres. In the following weeks, the National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements, ANR) questioned leading activists in Goma about their contacts with the United Nations Secretary Generals Investigative Team (UNSGIT) and asked them to submit copies of their monitoring reports and lists of their projects, and names of their international partners and funding agencies. Monitoring groups were particularly targeted, forcing at least a dozen prominent rights defenders from north and south Kivu into exile, some of them after going through horrendous ordeals of arbitrary detention and repeated torture. One member of the Grande Vision for Human Rights NGO in Goma, Gallican Ntirivamunda, was arrested and accused of cooperating with the U.N. investigation. Ntirivamunda was held for several months and repeatedly tortured. He remained in detention under the rebel RCD administration, reportedly at the military lockup knownas Bureau two" in Goma, accused of being a collaborator with Interahamwe. During a Human Rights watch site visit to Bureau two, RCD military commander Sylvain Mbuchi stated that Ntirivamunda had gone missing on November 17 during a military operation which attempted to use him to trap Interahamwe.
100 Human Rights Watch interview with local NGOs, Goma, December 2, 1998.
101 Human Rights Watch interviews, Bukavu, December 8 and December 10, 1998.
102 Human Rights Watch interview with the governor of South Kivu, Bukavu, December 7, 1998. He referred to the November 14, 1998 Plan de Paix a twelve-page document signed by eight members of the Coordination Office of the Civil Society of South Kivu.
103 Human Rights watch interview with womens development and human rights NGO, Panzi, December 10, 1998.
104 Human Rights Watch telephone interview to Brussels, New York, December 14, 1998.
105 "UNICEF condemns recruitment of DRC children by rebels, government, AFP, Geneva, August 14, 1998.
106 Human Rights Watch interview with humanitarian NGO, Bukavu, December 8, 1998.
107 "Congo military intervention is justified - Mandela, Reuters, September 3, 1998.
108 Laide de lUE devrait être refusée aux belligérents, selon Jacques Santer, Agence France-Presse, September 6, 1998.
109 Agence Europe, "E.U./Congo: Mr. Pinheiro specifies conditions under which E.U. could resume cooperation and financial support to Congo," Brussels, November 27, 1998.
110 E.U. warns of aid cutoff to countries with troops in DR Congo, Agence France-Presse, December 9, 1998.
111 United States Concerned about Rwandan Refugee Movements, Statement by James Rubin, Spokesman, U.S. Department of State, November 13, 1998.
112 Ambassador David J. Scheffer Delivers Remarks on Genocide Recognition and Prevention at Genocide Convention at the Holocaust Museum, Washington D.C., December 10, 1998.
113 The Brooke amendment prohibits U.S. assistance to countries in arrears on their debt. Section 575 of the 1999 appropriations bill, known as the Faircloth amendment, states that no funds can be provided to the central government of Congo until the President reports to Congress that the central government is: 1) investigating and prosecuting those responsible for human rights abuses in Congo and 2) implementing a credible democratic transition. Assistance can be provided to promote democracy and the rule of law as part of a transition program.Human Rights Watch