Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2008 icon

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2008

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Democratic Republic of the Congo 2008

D.o.S. Country Report

on Human Rights Practices

PARDS Report-Specific

Source and Reliability Assessment

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2008

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

U.S. Department of State

Washington, D.C. 20520

February 25, 2009

[1] The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a nominally centralized republic with a population of approximately 60 million.a The president and the lower house of parliament (National Assembly) are popularly elected;b the members of the upper house (the Senate) are chosen by provincial assemblies.c Multiparty presidential and National Assembly elections in 2006 were judged to be credible, despite some irregularities, while indirect elections for senators in 2007 were marred by allegations of vote buying. d

[2] Internal conflict in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, driven to a large degree by the illegal exploitation of natural resources, as well as a separate conflict in the western province of Bas-Congo, had an extremely negative effect on security and human rights during the year.a The Goma peace accords signed in January by the government and more than 20 armed groups from the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu provided for a cease-fire and charted a path toward sustainable peace in the region.b Progress was uneven, with relative peace in South Kivu and the continued participation of the South Kivu militias in the disengagement process.c In North Kivu, what little progress was made in implementing the accords during the first half of the year unraveled with the renewed fighting that began in August, perpetuating lawlessness in many areas of the east. d

[3] On December 12, the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo Report Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1807 reported that Rwandan authorities have supplied military equipment and been complicit in recruiting soldiers, including children, to support the Congolese rebel National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP), led by a former general of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), Laurent Nkunda.a In addition, the UN Group of Experts presented extensive and credible evidence that elements of the FARDC provided support to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which committed numerous abuses in eastern Congo during the year and was composed primarily of Hutus from neighboring Rwanda, including some who perpetrated the 1994 Rwandan genocide.b Also in December, the Rwandan and Congolese governments met to develop a joint strategy to eliminate the FDLR. c

[4] At year's end government control over many regions remained weak, particularly in North and South Kivu provinces.a Civilian authorities generally did not maintain effective control of the security forces. b

[5] In all areas of the country the government's human rights record remained poor, and security forces continued to act with impunity throughout the year, committing many serious abuses including unlawful killings, disappearances, torture, and rape.a Security forces also engaged in arbitrary arrests and detention.b Harsh and life-threatening conditions in prison and detention facilities, prolonged pretrial detention, lack of an independent and effective judiciary, and arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home also remained serious problems.c Security forces retained child soldiers and compelled forced labor by civilians.d Members of the security forces also continued to abuse and threaten journalists, contributing to a decline in freedom of the press.e Government corruption remained pervasive.f Security forces at times beat and threatened local human rights advocates and harassed UN human rights investigators.g Discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, trafficking in persons, child labor, and lack of protection of workers' rights continued to be pervasive throughout the country.h Enslavement of Pygmies occurred. i

[6] Armed groups continued to commit numerous, serious abuses – some of which may have constituted war crimes – including unlawful killings, disappearances, and torture.a They also recruited and retained child soldiers, compelled forced labor, and committed widespread crimes of sexual violence and other possible war crimes. b


Section 1: Respect for the Integrity of the Person, including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

[7] There were reports that the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings. a

[8] On July 6, Kinshasa-based members of the Republican Guard (GR), an elite armed force under the control of President Joseph Kabila, killed Daniel Botethi, the vice president of the Kinshasa Provincial Assembly and a prominent figure of the opposition party Liberation of Congo (MLC), whose leader Jean-Pierre Bemba ran against Kabila for president in 2006.a The soldiers shot and killed Botethi and his bodyguard at a roadblock in Kinshasa, near the site of an attack in May that injured opposition Senator Adolphe Onusumba.b The MLC subsequently suspended its participation in government bodies to protest the killing.c On September 22, the Military Tribunal of Kinshasa/Ngaliema sentenced four GR soldiers to death for their involvement in the killing.d Although a soldier on trial for the murder testified that Kinshasa Governor Andre Kimbuta, an ally of President Kabila, ordered the killing, the connection was never proved. e

[9] In the east, security forces summarily executed civilians and killed civilians during clashes with illegal armed groups (see: Section 1.g.). a

[10] There were several occasions during the year when members of security forces arbitrarily and summarily killed civilians, sometimes during apprehension or while holding them in custody, and often for failing to surrender their possessions, submit to rape, or perform personal services.a For example, according to the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in the country (UNJHRO), on January 23, a Congolese National Police (PNC) officer in Bulukutu, Equateur Province, shot and killed a civilian who was serving lunch to a group of police officers because the victim had given a larger serving to his police colleagues.b Authorities arrested the perpetrator but later released him, reportedly due to the lack of detention facilities.c No further action had been taken by year's end. d

[11] According to the UNJHRO, on February 21, a policeman attached to the Provincial Mining Office in Kalukalanga, Katanga Province, shot and killed an artisanal miner because he did not have enough money to pay "an entry fee" into the local mining site.a No action was taken against the officer.b

[12] On February 28, the government launched operations ostensibly to restore state authority in Bas-Congo Province.a Members of the Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK), a political-religious group seeking greater provincial autonomy, had effectively taken over state functions in several villages and towns in Seke-Banza, Lukula, and Luozi territories to set up a parallel justice system where existing state authority was extremely weak.b The arrival of security forces spawned violent clashes with the BDK, as well as the rape of local residents by the PNC (see: Section 1.c.).c In June, after dispatching an investigative team to the province in late March, the UNJHRO published a report concluding that at least 100 persons, most of whom were members of the BDK, died during the operations launched by the PNC.d The report concluded that the police used excessive force and in some cases committed arbitrary executions.e Although it criticized the report, the government made a commitment to hold a judicial investigation, which had not begun by year's end.f A report released in November by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which also cited instances of excessive force by security forces against the BDK in 2007, estimated that more than 200 BDK supporters and others were killed as a result of the clashes in March, which HRW believed were part of "a deliberate effort to wipe out the movement." g

[13] According to the UNJHRO, on March 22, a FARDC soldier shot and killed a civilian in Mahagi Port, Orientale Province, who resisted his attempt to extort money at a checkpoint.a The victim's brother later stabbed the soldier to death. b

[14] There were no reports that authorities apprehended the police chief in Sota, Ituri District (Orientale Province), who escaped arrest in January 2007, after he and his assistant subjected a detainee to cruel and inhuman treatment, resulting in his death.a It was unknown whether the assistant remained in detention or had been tried. b

[15] Authorities took no action against members of security forces who used excessive force, according to a UN report, during a January 2007 demonstration by the BDK, resulting in the killing of at least 105 persons. a

[16] According to the Bukavu-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) Volunteer Service Bureau for Children and Health, the Bukavu Military Court sentenced a soldier of the FARDC's 11th Integrated Brigade in March 2007 to 20 years in prison for the February 2007 killing of a civilian who refused to carry the soldier's personal belongings. a

[17] Authorities took no action against a navy corporal who shot and killed a university student in Goma, North Kivu Province, in April 2007. a

[18] Authorities took no action against those responsible for summarily executing and otherwise killing approximately 300 persons in March 2007 during armed confrontations in Kinshasa between forces loyal to President Kabila and rival forces loyal to former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba.a Authorities also took no action against FARDC and GR officers who arrested more than 200 persons following the confrontations and subjected many of them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.b By July 25, after the vice minister of human rights identified several individuals being detained illegally, authorities had released more than half (107) of the 187 individuals who were still in detention at the beginning of the year as a result of the March 2007 Kinshasa fighting.c According to the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUC), by year's end authorities released the remaining 80, all former militia members of Bemba's protection force, and transferred them to Kamina, Katanga Province, to be integrated into the FARDC. d

[19] There was no information available regarding a policeman in Mabikwa, Maniema Province, who beat a man to death in July 2007 before going into hiding. a

[20] During 2007 there were reports of deaths in prisons resulting from physical abuse by members of security forces.a No action was taken against the FARDC soldiers who tortured to death two suspects at Uvira Central Prison in South Kivu Province in October 2007, or against the Mobile Intervention Group (GMI) officers for the October 2007 killing of an inmate at Buluwo Prison in Katanga Province. b

[21] Authorities did not take any action during the year against several FARDC soldiers involved in the 2006 killing of 13 civilians in Kagaba, Ituri District (Orientale Province). a

[22] There were no reports that authorities had found the escaped FARDC soldier who was sentenced to prison in 2007 for the 2006 killing of an elderly man in Beni, North Kivu Province. a

[23] On February 29, the High Military Court in Kinshasa rejected a motion filed by victims' relatives to reverse the December 2007 decision by the Lubumbashi Military Court of Appeal.a The December 2007 decision rejected the appeal request that had been filed challenging the acquittals of the original Kilwa trial.b In the original June 2007 trial, a Katanga Province military court acquitted several FARDC soldiers and three employees of Anvil Mining of involvement in the 2004 massacre of 73 residents of Kilwa, Katanga;c UN human rights officials subsequently expressed serious concern over the trial's verdict. d

[24] According to locally based African Association for the Defense of Human Rights (ASADHO), in April the governor of Katanga Province and the provincial minister of interior arbitrarily prevented local human rights activists and attorneys from an Australian law firm from traveling to Kilwa to gather information for a possible civil law suit in Australian courts against Perth-based Anvil Mining Company.a Katanga authorities did not allow the group's aircraft to leave a Lubumbashi airport for Kilwa, citing a lack of official authorization, which the governor subsequently refused to grant due to regional "insecurity," although other flights that same day reportedly made the same voyage with no such authorization. b

[25] There were no reports of authorities taking action on the June 2007 killing of a police officer by civilians in Bukavu, South Kivu Province. a

[26] Illegal armed groups, including rebel groups and community militias, committed unlawful killings during the year (see: Section 1.g.). a

[27] A MONUC peacekeeper shot and killed a civilian during violent demonstrations in Goma on October 27 (see: Section 1.g.). a

b. Disappearance

[28] There were reports of politically motivated disappearances caused by government forces.a According to a report released in January by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), of the 52 cases of forced or involuntary disappearances reported to the UNWGEID since 1980, 43 remained unsettled as of November 2007.b There were few, if any, reports that the government made efforts to investigate disappearances and abductions, including those in which security force members were accused of involvement. c

[29] There was no information about the whereabouts of three lawyers in Kinshasa who were abducted by three armed men in July 2007 and allegedly detained by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR). a

[30] Armed groups operating outside government control kidnapped numerous persons, often for forced labor, military service, or sexual services.a Many of the victims disappeared (see: Section 1.g.). b

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

[31] The law does not specifically criminalize torture, and during the year there were many credible reports by informed sources that security services tortured civilians, particularly detainees and prisoners, and employed other types of cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.a There were almost no reports of government authorities taking action against members of security forces responsible for these acts. b

[32] The UNJHRO reported several cases of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.a For example, on January 7, two FARDC soldiers in Kalemie, Katanga Province, beat a civilian with the butts of their AK-47 rifles and stole his mobile telephone and 12,000 Congolese francs (approximately $24).b Authorities had taken no action against the soldiers by year's end. c

[33] On January 13, five FARDC soldiers severely beat a civilian in Mbuji-Mayi, Kasai Oriental Province, for resisting their efforts to steal his motorbike.a Military authorities took no action against the soldiers. b

[34] On January 28, seven PNC officers in Bena-Leka, Kasai Occidental Province, subjected a civilian to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment because he had failed to install hygienic facilities in his home, as ordered by local authorities.a They severely beat the victim, undressed him, and then forced him to walk naked to the local ANR office, which subsequently provided him with clothes and released him.b Authorities took no action against the PNC officers. c

[35] On February 28, GMI officers in Mbuji-Mayi, Kasai Oriental Province, arrested a policeman and detained him in a GMI holding cell until March 13 while subjecting him to torture.a Over several days a GMI lieutenant handcuffed the victim's hands behind his back and beat him on the buttocks and right shoulder with the backside of a machete and the wooden handle of a spade.b The military prosecutor began an investigation into the case, but results remained unknown at year's end. c

[36] Authorities took no action against ANR agents who arrested a theft suspect in Beni, North Kivu Province, in January 2007 and, according to MONUC, subsequently beat the victim with sticks, including on his genitals.a

[37] During the year a police commander arrested one of his subordinates for the abuse of a theft suspect in February 2007 in Mbuji-Mayi, Kasai Oriental Province.a At year's end the policeman remained in detention awaiting a court date. b

[38] Police took no action against members of security forces who, according to informed sources, committed the following acts of torture in 2007: the January torture of a judicial investigator by authorities in Orientale Province (see: Section 1.d.);a the daily whipping of a man between April and June on the orders of a FARDC general in Kinshasa following a personal business dispute;b and the November torture of seven suspected gang members, one of whom died from his injuries, by the GMI in the Bakwa Bowa police station in Kasai Oriental Province. c

[39] On several occasions during the year police beat and arrested journalists who wrote or broadcast material they did not like (see: Section 2.a.) a

[40] There were continuing reports, including many from the UNJHRO, of rape of civilians by members of the security forces.a Several of these reports concerned rape committed in the context of the conflict in the east (see: Section 1.g.).b Other reported rapes by security forces occurred outside the conflict's context.c For example, on February 26, a FARDC soldier in Rwindi, North Kivu Province, allegedly raped a three-year-old girl.d Military justice authorities from the 9th Integrated Brigade later arrested and detained the perpetrator, although his status was unknown at year's end. e

[41] On March 19, a FARDC lieutenant in Gemena, Equateur Province, abducted a 14-year-old girl, took her to his house, and repeatedly raped her until he released her on March 23.a The Office of the Military Prosecutor subsequently arrested him, although his status was unknown at year's end. b

[42] On April 15, the Mbanza Ngungu Military Tribunal in Luozi, Bas-Congo Province, sentenced two PNC officers to 20 years in prison for rape committed during PNC operations against the BDK in March (see: Section 1.a.). a

[43] On May 17, a group of policemen in Ngele, Equateur Province, raped 13 women and six girls, subjected male residents of the village to cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and pillaged the entire village.a The rapes were reportedly a planned response to a May 13 incident during which villagers threw stones at the police after two officers had severely beaten two young men.b Authorities took no known action against the policemen. c

[44] In May 2007 FARDC soldiers of the 6th Integrated Brigade looted several houses near Jiba, Ituri District, raped four women, and forced 10 villagers to carry looted goods to their camp near Bule.a They released the villagers several days later.b Military authorities arrested two soldiers in connection with one of the rapes, but did not take any additional action. c

[45] Authorities took no known action against members of security forces responsible for the following rapes committed in 2007: the September rape of eight women, including three minors, in Yanonge, Orientale Province, by PNC officers reportedly acting on orders from their commander;a and the November gang rape of a woman in Bongondjo, Equateur Province, by five FARDC soldiers. b

[46] According to the UNJHRO, on February 18, the Mbandaka Military Tribunal pronounced its verdict against six police officers accused of committing mass rape and other human rights violations in Waka, Equateur Province, in 2006.a The court sentenced one of the officers to 20 years in prison for crimes against humanity.b It sentenced two others to six months, already served, for extortion and looting.c The court sentenced the remaining officers to three to five years in prison for arbitrary arrest and illegal detention. d

[47] According to ASADHO, in September a mobile court investigated the 2006 rape of 60 women and girls in Belongo, Equateur Province, but had not reached a verdict at year's end. a

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

[48] Conditions in most prisons remained harsh and life-threatening. a

[49] In all prisons except the Kinshasa Penitentiary and Reeducation Center (CPRK), the government had not provided food for many years--prisoners’ friends and families provided the only available food and necessities.a Malnutrition was widespread. Some prisoners starved to death.b Prison staff often forced family members of prisoners to pay bribes for the right to bring food to prisoners. c

[50] Temporary holding cells in some prisons were extremely small for the number of prisoners they held.a Many had no windows, lights, electricity, running water, or toilet facilities. b

[51] According to the UNJHRO, on January 17, inmates took the director of Kalemie Central Prison in Katanga Province hostage in protest against the chronic food shortage in the prison.a The inmates had not eaten for three days.b They released him the same day. c

[52] During the year many prisoners died due to neglect. For example, the UNJHRO reported in February that over a two-month period, 21 prisoners died from malnutrition or dysentery in prisons in Uvira, Bunia, and Mbuji-Mayi. a

[53] On April 17, local judicial authorities visiting Bunia Central Prison in Orientale Province observed that three prisoners had died that month due to malnutrition. a

[54] Between June 21 and 25, five inmates died of malnutrition in Mbuji-Mayi Central Prison in Kasai Oriental Province.a The UNJHRO stated 12 other inmates were in critical condition. b

[55] The results of a public prosecutor's investigation into the October 2007 death of an illegally detained man in Lodja, Kasai Oriental Province, were not known. a

[56] The penal system continued to suffer from severe underfunding, and most prisons suffered from overcrowding, poor maintenance, and a lack of sanitation facilities.a According to the UNJHRO, almost 80 percent of inmates were pretrial detainees.b Health care and medical attention remained grossly inadequate and infectious diseases rampant.b In rare cases prison doctors provided care;d however, they often lacked medicines and supplies.e In August 2007 the UN Human Rights Council's independent expert on human rights in the DRC recommended that the parliament adopt a law to reform the prison system.f However, as of year's end, neither the government nor the parliament had responded. g

[57] Larger prisons sometimes had separate facilities for women and juveniles, but others generally did not.a Male prisoners raped other prisoners, including men, women, and children.b Prison officials held pretrial detainees together with convicted prisoners and treated both groups the same.c They generally held individuals detained on state security grounds in special sections.d Government security services often clandestinely transferred such prisoners to secret prisons.e Civilian and military prisons and detention facilities held both soldiers and civilians. f

[58] On June 12, foreign diplomats visited the CPRK, which had a capacity of 1,500 but held 4,400 detainees and prisoners, almost 400 more than a year earlier.a Pretrial detainees accounted for 65 percent of the CPRK's population.b Of the 4,400, 1,864 were military prisoners.c The women's wing housed 130 women and their infant children, who shared four toilets.d The women suffered from frequent skin and vaginal infections and typhoid.e In addition to the infants in the women's wing, the CPRK housed 64 juveniles.f Access to the women's and children's wings was self-regulated and not secure. g

[59] The Kisangani Central Prison, originally built in 1927, was in a state of disrepair when foreign diplomats visited on December 4.a Two wings of the interior of the prison appeared uninhabitable due to a collapsed roof and the absence of doors.b Originally built for a capacity of 1,500 prisoners, the prison could only support a few hundred at the time of the visit.c Of the 282 men being held, only 20 had been convicted; the rest were awaiting trial. d

[60] Not all the prison staff were being paid.a The prison received very sporadic financial assistance.b The prisoners received only three meals per week, largely through the Catholic Church;c most days the prisoners either had to wait for handouts from relatives, if any lived nearby, or they did not eat. d

[61] A separate room, 20 feet by 15 feet, housed 31 military prisoners.a As in the rest of the prison, there were no beds;b prisoners had to sleep either on a grass mat or the bare concrete floor.c Sanitary conditions were extremely poor, as there were only pit latrines and open sewer lines.d There were no functioning showers.e Rooms for civilian prisoners were more crowded, with 65-70 prisoners sleeping in rooms that were 15 feet by 30 feet.f The medical unit was decrepit and austere with one box of medicine. g

[62] Escapes from Kisangani Central Prison were problematic.a The red brick infrastructure crumbled easily by touch or by a blunt tool. b

[63] According to MONUC, fewer than 90 of the country's 230 prisons actually held prisoners;a while there were no reports of the government officially closing prisons during the year, dozens of prisons that had not functioned for years remained closed.b In some cases security personnel who were detained or convicted for serious crimes were released from prison by military associates or by bribing unpaid guards.c Most prisons were dilapidated or seriously neglected.d Prisoners routinely escaped from prisons in all provinces. e

[64] On April 1, 46 inmates escaped from Isiro Central Prison in Orientale Province after breaking down the main door in the absence of PNC guards.a The escape reportedly was in protest of the unresponsiveness towards the prisoners' grievances, including lack of food, inadequate sanitary conditions, and prolonged pretrial detention.b None of the escapees had been recaptured by year's end. c

[65] Even harsher conditions prevailed in small detention centers, which were extremely overcrowded, had no toilets, mattresses, or medical care, and which provided detainees with insufficient amounts of light, air, and water.a Originally intended to house short-term detainees, they were often used for lengthy incarceration.b They generally operated without dedicated funding and with minimal regulation or oversight.c Informed sources stated detention center authorities often arbitrarily beat or tortured detainees.d Guards frequently extorted bribes from family members and NGOs to visit detainees or provide food and other necessities. e

[66] Despite President Kabila's 2006 decision to close illegal jails operated by the military or other security forces, there were no reports of illegal jails being closed during the year.a According to MONUC the security services, particularly the intelligence services and the GR, continued to operate numerous illegal detention facilities characterized by harsh and life threatening conditions.b Authorities routinely denied family members, friends, and lawyers access to these illegal facilities. c

[67] During the year the UNJHRO confirmed cases of torture in detention centers run by security services.a For example, in April, six inmates in Musenze Central Prison in Goma, North Kivu, claimed that ANR agents tortured them in an ANR holding cell from March 29 to April 1, before transferring them to the prison.b UNJHRO officers observed marks on their bodies that were consistent with their claims. c

[68] In October 2007 two ANR agents in Bishile, Katanga Province, arbitrarily arrested, detained, and subjected a civilian accused of facilitating prostitution to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.a The victim was admitted to the local hospital in critical condition.b Authorities had taken no action against the ANR agents at year's end. c

[69] The law provides that minors may be detained only as a last resort;a however, in part due to the absence of juvenile justice or education centers, authorities commonly detained minors.b Many children endured pretrial detention without seeing a judge, lawyer, or social worker;c for orphaned children, pretrial detention often continued for months or years.d
In general, the government allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross, MONUC, and some NGOs access to all official detention facilities;e however, it did not allow these organizations access to illegal government-run detention facilities. f

[70] On April 21, the ANR denied access by UNJHRO officers to holding cells in five provinces (Kinshasa, Bas-Congo, North Kivu, Orientale, and South Kivu), claiming that the directors of the cells were unavailable.a According to the UNJHRO, this type of denial commonly occurred despite the fact that UN Security Council Resolutions related to MONUC's mandate state that UN Human Rights Officers are to be granted immediate and unhindered access to all holding cells and places of detention. b

[71] Armed groups outside central government control sometimes detained civilians, often for ransom, but little information was available concerning the conditions of detention (see: Section 1.g.). a

[72] Authorities took no action during the year against the mwami (local chief), other traditional leaders, or FARDC soldiers involved in the arbitrary and inhumane detention and ill-treatment of 57 civilians accused of witchcraft at the mwami's private residence in Luvungi, South Kivu Province, for four days in October 2007. a

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

[73] The law prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention;a however, government security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. b

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

[74] The security forces consist of the PNC, which operates under the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and has primary responsibility for law enforcement and public order.a The PNC includes the Rapid Intervention Police and the Integrated Police Unit.b The ANR, overseen by the president's national security advisor, is responsible for internal and external security.c Other agencies include the military intelligence service of the Ministry of Defense;d the Directorate General of Migration (DGM), responsible for border control;e the GR, which reports directly to the presidency;f and the FARDC, which is part of the Ministry of Defense and generally responsible for external security, but which also carries out an internal security role. g

[75] Security forces generally remained ineffective, lacked training, received little pay, and suffered from widespread corruption.a The government prosecuted and disciplined few security forces personnel for abusing civilians.b Impunity in the security forces remained a severe, widespread problem.c Investigating misconduct or abuses by the security forces is the responsibility of the military justice system.d According to MONUC's Rule of Law Unit, there were a total of 265 investigators, 232 prosecutors, and 125 judges in the military system.e However, they were poorly trained, had little or no resources for investigations, and limited, if any, access to legal codes. f

[76] Members of the FARDC and police continued to commit the majority of the country's human rights abuses, particularly acts of torture, according to MONUC.a Although the UN independent expert on human rights in the DRC recommended in August 2007 that the government undertake fundamental security sector reform, including the development of mechanisms to effectively reduce impunity and end widespread sexual violence, the government had not undertaken significant steps by year's end.b For example, it had yet to establish a vetting system for members of the security forces aimed at suspending officers who had committed past human rights abuses. c

[77] However, in August the government established joint military oversight committees with MONUC in several provinces.a They were composed of military officers, military magistrates, MONUC human rights officers, and MONUC child protection officers.b They met monthly to monitor, investigate, and develop strategies to combat sexual violence and other human rights abuses.c Their effectiveness remained unclear at year's end. d

[78] FARDC naval forces in Equateur Province regularly engaged in illegal taxation and harassment of traders along the Congo River.a They set up checkpoints to collect "taxes," often arresting individuals who could not pay the demanded bribes, and stole whatever food and money they could from them. b

[79] During the year the government continued to cooperate with MONUC and international donors on police training programs. a

Arrest and Detention

[80] By law, arrests for offenses punishable by more than six months' imprisonment require warrants.a Detainees must appear before a magistrate within 48 hours.b Authorities must inform those arrested of their rights and the reason for their arrest, and may not arrest a family member instead of the individual being sought.c They may not arrest individuals for non-felony offenses, such as debt and civil offenses.d Authorities must allow arrested individuals to contact their families and consult with attorneys.e In practice security officials routinely violated all of these requirements. f

[81] Prolonged pretrial detention, often ranging from months to years, remained a problem.a Trial delays were due to factors such as judicial inefficiency, corruption, financial constraints, and staff shortages.b Prison officials often held individuals after their sentences had expired due to disorganization, judicial inefficiency, or corruption. c

[82] Government security forces sometimes used the pretext of state security to arbitrarily arrest individuals and frequently held those arrested on such grounds without charging them, presenting them with evidence, allowing them access to a lawyer, or following other aspects of due process.a

[83] Police often arbitrarily arrested and detained persons without filing charges, often to extort money from family members.a Authorities rarely pressed charges in a timely manner and often created contrived or overly vague charges.b No functioning bail system existed, and detainees had little access to legal counsel if unable to pay.c Authorities often held suspects in incommunicado detention and refused to acknowledge their detention. d

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