abstract

The state of near-constant humanitarian emergency experienced by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the mid-1990s is not the result of a single strain of conflict but of numerous interwoven conflicts and political events that overlap and build upon each other. This report serves to examine the current climate of the country with respect to migration and human rights through the lens of the electoral crisis beginning in 2016 with President Joseph Kabila’s determination to hold on to power. Documenting the human rights abuses committed amidst government responses to the electoral crisis, this piece captures the overall humanitarian climate of the country in 2018, and positions the crisis - whether it deteriorates or improves by the planned election date of December 23rd, 2018 - as a factor in the DRC’s current and future status.

 © Daniel McCabe,  “This is Congo”  2018

© Daniel McCabe, “This is Congo” 2018

contents

  1. History of Modern Democratic Republic  of the Congo

  2. Political Instigation for Current Status

  3. Exacerbating Factors

  4. Election Status Outlooks

  5. Documented Human Rights Abuses Directly Related to the DRC Political Crisis

  6. Documented Human Rights Abuses Indirectly Related to the DRC Political Crisis

  7. Effects on Vulnerable Populations

  8. Migration Patterns

  9. Conclusion

 © Daniel McCabe,  “This is Congo”  2018

© Daniel McCabe, “This is Congo” 2018

HISTORY OF MODERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), geographically Africa’s second-largest country, was incorporated under its current borders in 1884 as the private colony of Belgian King Leopold II from land occupied by the ethnically Bantu Kongo and Luba-Lunda kingdoms. Leopold’s aim was to develop the territory into a market for European goods, supplied by traffic along the Congo River. International outcry over Leopold’s subhuman treatment of black laborers and their families prompted the Belgian parliament in 1908 to annex the Congo State as a national dependency. The Belgian government systematically dissolved traditional polities and placed the Congolese people under direct authoritarian rule through a series of district commissions. Congo remained a colony until 1960, when nationalist political action and the success of independence movements in neighboring regions of Francophone Africa forced Belgium to withdraw its rule1. However, the eradication of traditional authorities, a deficit of trained public servants, and competing visions of the new county’s direction left the nascent DRC divided, inefficient, and dependent on Western patronage2.

A series of coups and revolutions from 1960 to 1965 culminated, with Western assistance, in the ascendancy of President Mobutu Sese Seko, who would rule the country (known as Zaire from 1971 to 1997) for 32 years in a reign plagued by corruption and political violence. During the Rwandan genocide of the mid-1990s, Mobutu, to curry favor with the French and Belgian governments, supported Rwanda’s Hutu government, and ordered attacks on Zairian Tutsis. When Hutu leaders exiled to Zaire began plotting to retake the Rwandan government following the Tutsi takeover, Rwanda allied itself with the Zairian opposition and overthrew Mobutu, installing opposition leader Laurent Kabila as president in 19973. In 1999, the United Nations dispatched a 20,000-soldier peacekeeping force, MONUC (replaced by MONUSCO in 2010), to the DRC, with a mandate of protecting civilians and relief workers and aiding the government in promoting political stability4. Both Rwandan government and Hutu elements, however, as well as various Congolese ethnic nationalist militias, remained active in the country, and Kabila was assassinated in 2001. He was replaced by his son, Joseph Kabila. From 1998 to 2009, over 5.4 million people died in conflict in the DRC, mainly as a result of action between the DRC government and three non-state combatants in the country’s eastern region: the National Congress for the Defense of the People, the political opposition against the Kabila government, which desisted from military activities in 2009; the Hutu militias, operating as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda; and the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan Christian fundamentalist militia that uses the DRC as a base of operations. Clashes between nonstate actors and the Congolese government in the eastern region continue to this day. Kabila’s tenure as president was renewed in turbulent elections in 2006, and he was reelected in 2011. He is constitutionally barred from pursuing a third term5.

 © Ley Uwera, Beni, DRC. 2017

© Ley Uwera, Beni, DRC. 2017

POLITICAL INSTIGATION FOR CURRENT STATUS

Joseph Kabila’s second term as president was set to expire on December 19th, 2016; however, as no elections for Kabila’s successor had been held, Kabila remained in power. Political unrest, which had never fully quieted from the conflict of the late 1990s, began to rise again amidst electoral tension and accusations by the opposition coalition, Rassemblement, of a power grab by Kabila’s Alliance of the Presidential Majority (“Majority;” known as the Common Front since June, 2018)6. Seeking to quell the violence, which had already killed dozens7., the Congolese Catholic Church negotiated the Saint Sylvester power-sharing agreement between the Majority and Rassemblement, which stipulated that elections would be held in 2017 and presidential term limits would remain unchanged8.. However, empowered by the disunity of Rassemblement and disengagement by the Catholic Church and the international community, the government refused to hold elections in 2017 as well, and instead published an election calendar with December 23rd, 2018 as the new election date. Rassemblement has criticized the calendar as another tactic used to delay the vote9.
 © Clara Veale

© Clara Veale

EXACERBATING FACTORS

Conflict over government manipulation of chieftaincy politics in the Kasaï provinces of south-central DRC began in mid-2016 between the largely pro-government Bana Mura and anti-government Kamuina Nsapu elements, during which three to four thousand people were killed and 1.4 million displaced. While the situation has been generally stable since mid-2017, patchy violence beginning late in the year in locales across the region threaten to rekindle the large-scale conflict. Although Bana Mura-Kamuina Nsapu clashes have lately centered on local disputes, residual Kamuina Nsapu concerns regarding overreach by the Kabila government are likely to intensify if the electoral crisis worsens. Additionally, attempts by government bureaucrats to play the factions off each other for political influence in uncertain times further serve to tie the local Kasaï situation into national affairs10.

The DRC’s economy, which had been growing steadily since the early 2010s11, suddenly pitched into decline in 2015 following a decrease in the prices of copper and cobalt, minerals comprising 80% of the country’s export revenue. This in turn devalued the Congolese franc relative to foreign currencies, resulting in hyperinflation and a drop in Congolese nominal incomes12. The economy remains sluggish, and widespread anxiety over making ends meet, particularly with respect to children’s school fees, have compounded political tensions13.

On August 1st, 2018, the first cases of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported in eastern DRC’s Nord-Kivu province to the World Health Organization (WHO). While the WHO and other intergovernmental organizations quickly began relief and containment efforts, 57 confirmed cases of EVD and 41 deaths were tallied by August 12th14, and the disease is likely to adversely affect the economy of the region, fueling civil unrest. Additionally, Nord-Kivu, as a conflict zone, currently produces the greatest amount of refugees in the DRC15, and continued large-scale migration could serve to spread EVD across the country and greater Central Africa. The DRC is also facing widespread famine, which is expected to affect 7.7 million of the country’s population of 83.3 million, and is in the midst of a cholera epidemic and the malaria pandemic16.

 © Ley Uwera, Mill for local farmers in Kiwanja, DRC. 2018

© Ley Uwera, Mill for local farmers in Kiwanja, DRC. 2018

ELECTION STATUS OUTLOOKS

On August 8th, 2018, President Kabila announced through a spokesperson that he will respect the DRC’s constitutionally mandated term limits and will not seek a third term, ending speculation over his participation in the elections scheduled for December 23rd, 2018. The international community hailed the move, which was received as a first step towards de-escalation and an end to government-sponsored human rights abuses17.

However, the news comes amid reports that the Kabila government has been collaborating with militias in the eastern provinces, allegedly arming them and telling them to “prepare for war.” Observers have speculated that the government is attempting to use the militias to stir up violence as a pretext for further delaying elections, indicating that Kabila has no plans to give up power18. It would not be the first time the government has manipulated political infighting for its own gains - in late 2016, for example, it recruited fighters from the M23 militia (which it had fought in the eastern region earlier in the decade) to violently suppress protesters19.

DOCUMENTED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE DRC POLITICAL CRISIS

The UN has documented four categories of human rights abuse perpetrated on a widespread and overlapping scale by the Kabila government in direct relation to the DRC political crisis:

1. Curtailment of freedoms of expression and information

2. Arbitrary arrest and detention

3. Maltreatment and torture of captives

4. Disproportionate use of force against civilians21

 © Ley Uwera. Mave Grâce, 11, Irturi Province DRC, 2018

© Ley Uwera. Mave Grâce, 11, Irturi Province DRC, 2018

Curtailment of freedoms of expression and information

President Kabila’s Majority coalition has taken actions indicating a conscious pattern of repressing expression and dissemination of opposition political views. This suppressive system has been the norm throughout his and his predecessors’ tenures as well as Congolese history since the beginning of the colonial era. Increases in silencing actions against protestors, journalists, and political figures are typical of election cycles as the political opposition attempts to campaign and becomes more vocal in its criticism of the ruling party. In the past, the number of silencing actions has decreased in the months and years following elections as the opposition regroups; however, as the scheduled 2016 elections were never held, popular agitation has continued to grow and the opposition has maintained political pressure, which the government in turn attempts to repress.

To combat opposition political speech, the government has banned public demonstrations; forcibly dispersed peaceful protests; imprisoned and exiled opposition leaders; threatened, imprisoned, and killed domestic journalists, and denied visas to foreign correspondents; destroyed or forcibly closed media outlets and jammed the signals of television and radio stations; blocked internet access in protest zones; and increased monitoring of the social media landscape for anti-government content. Bans on public demonstrations in some large cities were first implemented by local governments in late 2015. In December 2016, however, the commissioner of the DRC’s national police force (PNC) ordered the bans extended across the country in response to election-related upheaval22. These bans remain in place, and the government has employed draconian enforcement measures. These were illustrated in responses to nationwide protests organized by the Congolese Catholic Church on December 31st, 2017, January 21st, 2018, and February 25th, 2018. During the December and January protests, state security forces in Kinshasa blocked roads, arrested demonstrators, and fired tear gas and live ammunition into the crowds, killing at least 16 people total and wounding some four dozen others. Facing popular condemnation, the PNC ordered its officers not to fire on the February demonstrations23, and instead instructed members of the Majority youth wing to intimidate protesters and block their movement. The youth succeeded in escalating violence during the protests, in which 32 people were injured and two were killed. The government also blacked out internet service nationwide on the days of the January and February demonstrations. More recently, the government has arrested sexual violence protesters in Kinshasa in late July24 and blocked the path of a march for presidential candidate Moïse Katumbi in Lubumbashi in early August, among other incidents25.

 © Ley Uwera, Anti Kabila Protests, 2017  .

© Ley Uwera, Anti Kabila Protests, 2017 .

 © Ley Uwera, Police deployed at the entrance president to enhance security, 2016.

© Ley Uwera, Police deployed at the entrance president to enhance security, 2016.

Although the Congolese constitution includes provisions for press freedom, the government frequently invokes anti-defamation laws as a rationale for taking action against critical news media26, or uses its right to hold anyone for 48 hours without charge, as it did on August 1st, 2018, when it arrested ten journalists at Kinshasa’s Kin Lartus television studio and confiscated their equipment27. In 2017, both Radio France Internationale and the UN’s Radio Okapi periodically had their signals jammed28 - a particularly effective tactic for journalistic repression, as radio is the most widespread medium in the DRC29 - at least four local opposition radio and television networks remained shuttered. While no murders of media personnel or destruction of studios and publishing houses have been reported in 2018, as they were in 2017, Congolese journalists continue to live in fear for their lives and freedoms, particularly as the December 2018 election deadline approaches, and self-censor their reporting in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention30.
Arbitrary arrest and detention

Arrest of individuals the Kabila government considers dangerous - including journalists, organizers, politicians, and ordinary protesters - serves both to weaken the opposition’s organization and to deter Congolese by intimidation from taking political action. As the Congolese constitution provides for freedom of political ideology, police generally rely on vague, trumped-up, or invented charges, or the 48-hour chargeless arrest law, to justify politically-motivated arrest, if they choose to justify any given incidence at all. Those arrestees that are kept longer than 48 hours and await trial are rarely granted access to legal counsel or visitors, and their cases are frequently delayed. MONUSCO reports that many longer-term civilian prisoners are held in military camps, and that UN investigators were denied access to such facilities31. The Kabila government agreed to a release of opposition political prisoners in the Saint Sylvester accords of December 2016, and it did free a number, including opposition leader Moïse Katumbi’s chief of staff. However, many more remain imprisoned, some having been arrested as early as 2015, and many in failing health32. Government release of the remaining political prisoners remains an important action item in proposed peace treaties.

 © Daniel McCabe,  “This is Congo”  2018

© Daniel McCabe, “This is Congo” 2018

Maltreatment and torture of captives

With African Union guidance, the DRC passed Act No 0011/008 in 2011, which explicitly banned the practice of torture. Enforcement of that Act, however, has been lax, and torture has persisted and been carried out by government agents across the country ever since33. While there is no way to know whether cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners with respect to the current electoral crisis has been ordered or sanctioned by the Congolese government, there exists a severe lack of accountability for state agents who perpetrate such human rights violations. Structural challenges combined with a general atmosphere of political repression indicates that such incidents will continue unless system-wide changes are made.

The exact prevalence of torture in the DRC is difficult to determine as human rights organizations are often barred from entering prisons and speaking to prisoners. However, anecdotal data suggest that torture since the passage of the 2011 law is widespread and practiced at prisons and other locations across the country, and is not restricted to a single geographic locale. In June, 2018, Human Rights Watch published a report on 24 political prisoners held in Kinshasa prisons who had been denied release in spite of the prisoner release clause of the Saint Sylvester accords. Four were reported as having been physically beaten by prison guards and police, four were reported as being held incommunicado, and three were reported as being denied access to legal counsel34. A February, 2017 MONUSCO report provided accounts of torture at Kokola military prison in eastern DRC and reported that one inmate there died of his treatment35. Prisoners interviewed in 2014 by Freedom From Torture detailed conditions inside DRC military prisons in the early 2010s, mentioning inadequate food, water, and medical treatment; physical assault, including rape; frequent solitary confinement; stress positioning; and lack of access to fresh air and sanitary facilities36. There seems little reason to believe that conditions have since improved.
 © Ley Uwera, Ituri, DRC. 2018

© Ley Uwera, Ituri, DRC. 2018

Disproportionate use of force against civilians

PNC police officers, FARDC soldiers, and their deputies have been documented as using tear gas projectiles37, live ammunition, armored trucks, and truncheons to disperse anti-government protests. Their actions have killed at least 97 civilians since December, 2016 and have wounded several times that number38, 39, 40. The vast majority of participants in these protests have been peaceful. Those that are not peaceful are seldom heavily armed and have been documented in several circumstances as being police officers or Majority youth wing members in disguise, having been placed in the midst of the protests to create disorder41. Bystanders interviewed by MONUSCO in 2016 have spoken of a deliberate “shoot-to-kill”42 approach to protest dispersal by government forces, and claimed to have heard soldiers telling civilians, “we were sent to kill.” This approach stands in contrast to the “zero deaths” target allegedly set in 2018 by provincial police commissioners ahead of the February 25th protests organized by the Catholic Church43. The discrepancy indicates either a conscious shift in strategy by government forces or a broadly situational nature to the killings rather than a planned execution. In either case, there is again little to no accountability for units perpetrating violence against civilians, which is a crime under Congolese law.

 © Clara Veale

© Clara Veale

DOCUMENTED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES INDIRECTLY RELATED TO THE DRC POLITICAL CRISIS

In addition to the Kabila government’s increasing repression of Congolese citizens’ rights to freedom, safety, and expression in the midst of the political crisis, continuing poverty and violence in the southern and eastern regions of the DRC have catalyzed a number of other abuses. These abuses have been carried out by government forces and their allied militias, as well as by anti-government forces. MONUSCO personnel, too, have been alleged to have perpetrated human rights abuses. In February, 2018, members of the peacekeeping force’s South African contingent were tried on four counts of torturing locals in Goma, Nord-Kivu province44.

Documented conflict-related human rights abuses perpetrated directly against individuals include violence against noncombatants; torture; forced labor and other enslavement, including sex slavery and child slavery; forced conscription, including of children; and forced marriage45. In addition, community-level human rights abuses, including denial of access to education, healthcare, and religious freedom are committed through widespread destruction of schools, hospitals, and churches46, 47. Armed conflict has also compromised healthcare rights through the interdiction of relief aid in the midst of the EVD and cholera epidemics48.

 © Daniel McCabe,  “This is Congo”  2018

© Daniel McCabe, “This is Congo” 2018

EFFECTS ON VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses amid the situations in the DRC. With respect to the current electoral crisis, female activists for the political opposition who are arrested risk sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) by soldiers and prison guards. The DRC’s weak justice system and culture of impunity among its military mean that these instances of violence, which constitute torture under international law when committed by state agents, are seldom prosecuted49. In the conflict zones of southern and eastern DRC, SGBV is well-documented as a widespread phenomenon affecting mainly women and girls since the Rwandan incursions of the 1990s. According to a 2011 study, around 12% of Congolese women had been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes50. Most of these assaults (roughly 52%51) are perpetrated by militia members and FARDC soldiers in territory captured from their opponents. Rather than being strategically deployed as a “weapon of war,” SGBV generally results from the militarizing effects of armed conflict on male sexuality and from soldiers’ feelings of frustration and anger. Similar stressors, combined with the conflict-borne breakdown of civic organizations and norms, contributes to occurances of SGBV against women and girls in domestic settings52. In either case, SGBV survivors often cannot or will not seek medical and/or psychological assistance due to factors of shame, cultural stigma, and lack or destruction of infrastructure. Perpetrated on a widespread scale, SGBV can adversely affect the social bonds of entire communities53.

Women are also forced into action on conflict front-lines. They can be trafficked as wives or concubines for militia leaders, where they are subject to SGBV and become targets for the opposing force. In the Kasaï region, the Bana Mura and Kamuina Nsapu militias have both been known to employ young women as battle-sorcerers, or ya mamas. Traditional belief holds that dances performed in battle by these women have the power to repel enemy rifle bullets. Ya mamas suffer extremely high casualty rates54.

 © Clara Veale

© Clara Veale

Children, too, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of conflict. Many are raised in communities lacking adequate support systems, with parents and other mentors having been killed or disabled by violence and its secondary effects. Roughly four million children have lost at least one parent since the beginning of instability in the DRC in the 199055, and 3.5 million of primary school age are not in school, mainly due to coverage issues in the national educational infrastructure56. Lacking ample support and stability in their formative years, many are at risk for mental health issues later in life57.

Taking advantage of children’s impressionability and the DRC’s lax legal environment, militias and organized crime groups often coerce or kidnap children and press them into service as soldiers, smugglers, beggars, and physical laborers. In 2016, the US Department of State noted 184 confirmed cases of child recruitment by non-state militias, though the actual number is probably much higher. It noted, however, that no cases of child recruitment by FARDC had been reported since 2014 (though FARDC-allied militias continue the practice), and that the military was complying with UN-mandated minimum service age requirements and transferred freed child soldiers to UNICEF care. However, the DRC judiciary’s lack of resources prevents it from prosecuting child labor law violations on a large scale outside of a few select industries, and child labor in the country remains a significant problem58.
 © Clara Veale

© Clara Veale

Migration Patterns

As of August 2018, 4.5 million Congolese are internally displaced and 781,697 have sought or are seeking asylum elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, a number the UNHCR estimates will increase to nearly one million by the end of 2018 as a result of continued upheaval59. The majority of all refugees come from the provinces of Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, Ituri, Tanganyika, and Haut-Katanga on the Congolese eastern border. Widespread armed conflict in Kasaï, Kasaï Central, and Kasaï Oriental in 2016 and 2017 produced large numbers of refugees, but as the fighting has wound down and become more localized since mid-2017, displaced residents of these provinces have begun to return home60.

Demographically, the DRC international refugee population is 50.1% female, 49.9% male, 54.5% children, and 42.9% adults of working age, figures which are proportional to the general population of the country and suggest that asylum-seekers tend to either travel as family units or intend to regroup as such once out of the country. The most significant difference is that only 2.9% of the refugee population is elderly (which the UNHCR defines as age 60 or older), significantly lower than the elderly 4.6% share of the general population61, 62. This difference is probably due to the physical difficulty of long-distance migration for the elderly, who would be more likely to seek safety closer to home. The population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is disproportionately children under 18 (60.5%) and women and girls (52%), though the elderly constitute a more proportional 4.5%63.

 © Ley Uwera, A girl in Kizimba Camp. 2018

© Ley Uwera, A girl in Kizimba Camp. 2018

Most IDPs in the DRC flee relatively short distances (typically remaining in the same province) from their homes with the intent to return as soon as conditions become safe. They typically stay with friends, relatives, or members of religious or ethnic communities, rather than in refugee camps. However, as regional conflicts grow in scale or shift locales, IDPs can find themselves having to flee their original destinations to new safety, sometimes across international borders, and even back into the DRC if conditions in neighboring countries are unsafe (circular cross-border displacement64). Most IDPs in 2017 cited armed attacks (67.6%) and intercommunity conflicts over farming, fishing, and mining rights (32.1%) as reasons for their displacement, with a small minority (.3%) fleeing natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and wildfires65.

Slightly over one-third of the DRC’s 781,697 biometrically-identified international asylum-seekers are hosted in Uganda (288,766, most traveling by boat across Lake Albert66), with significant populations also in Tanzania (84,470), Rwanda (82,358), Burundi (71,255), Zambia (41,407), Angola (35,822), Malawi (20,763), the Republic of the Congo (15,537), South Sudan (15,296), Zimbabwe (9,385), Central African Republic (4,515), Chad, and Kenya (38,910 between the two countries). These countries have generally been welcoming to migrants from the DRC and other countries, and have cooperated with the UNHCR in establishing the refugee camps that host over 80% of Congolese refugees67, though some (namely Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia) have imposed limits on refugees’ movement, access to citizenship, and working rights, in violation of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees68. Some non-African countries, including the United States, have made commitments and set quotas69 for refugee resettlement, and conduct interviews of applicants at the camps. As of June 30th, 2018, 10% of the UNHCR’s funding goal of USD 368.7 million had been met, leaving its settlement and processing infrastructure in Africa acutely undersupplied. However, it and various governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been able to provide some services and opportunities for Congolese asylum-seekers. The DRC’s ministry of education, for example, has cooperated with its Tanzanian counterpart to administer primary and secondary school exams to lessen the interruption on students’ learning; and the WHO has distributed vaccinations against the ongoing cholera epidemic to refugees in Uganda. In a particularly innovative move, Southern New Hampshire University and the NGO Generation Rwanda established a campus of their Kepler institution at Rwanda’s Kibiza camp in 2015, offering matriculation in US-accredited Bachelor of Arts programs to refugees who have completed secondary school70.

 © Daniel McCabe,  “This is Congo”  2018

© Daniel McCabe, “This is Congo” 2018

The following are the numbers from the African countries with the largest populations of Congolese asylum-seekers from 2016 to 2018 (end of year). They are rounded to reflect a continuous migrant flow. The 2018 end-of-year projection assumes a deterioration in the DRC situation71.
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* “Southern Africa” includes Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Zimbabwe

** “Other Countries” includes Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, and South Sudan. No refugee population estimates for these countries for the end of 2018 have been made. As of September, 2018, the combined refugee population of these countries is 59,50072

Conclusion

Even if the Congolese government holds free and fair elections by the end of 2018 and if Joseph Kabila chooses to accept their results and step down from the presidency, the DRC’s complex societal issues will still likely take decades to resolve. The new government and the successive ones, assuming they are responsible and democratic, will have to find a way to extend rule of law across all 905,400 square miles of the country to prevent the rise and spread of armed conflict while promoting a democratic culture - absent since the Belgian takeover - for dissenting groups to air their grievances without fear of reprisal. They must bring home their international and domestic refugees and re-incorporate them into community life while providing for the health, welfare, education, economic opportunity, and happiness of all their people. They must ensure that land disputes are fairly and effectively adjudicated, reconciliation between rival groups is promoted, and that the country’s vast mineral wealth is equitably distributed. The governments must build modern infrastructure, diversify the economy, and come to terms with the international community regarding their level of involvement in the DRC’s development. The Congolese people, too, will have to learn to adjust over time to life in a society at peace. Once these things are accomplished, after billions of dollars and man-hours, the human rights violation trends described in the pages above may reverse.

Still, the electoral crisis could represent a juncture in the DRC’s history and the beginning of the country’s large-scale improvement if it ends favorably. A successful, democratic election and a peaceful transfer of power, the first in the DRC’s history, would set a precedent for future stability in traditionally volatile electoral cycles. If the successive administrations are tolerant of dissent and the expression of diverse political views, activists would be emboldened to abandon military action and campaign legitimately for governments that are more receptive to the needs of the population. Over time, this environment would facilitate peacebuilding and socioeconomic improvement efforts, and would attract much-needed foreign investment. The DRC is well-positioned to begin improving itself. The world, and most of all the Congolese people, wait anxiously to see if it will.

 
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CLARA VEALE

Clara Veale is a photographer, writer and humanitarian worker currently working for the UNHCR in South Kivu, D.R. Congo. With a Masters' degree in international relations, conflicts & war, she uses visual media and writing to highlight complex political and social issues and advocate for social justice. www.claraveale.com / Instagram: @_claravela

 
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DANIEL MCCABE

Daniel McCabe is a journalist and filmmaker from New York City. His photographs are stillshots from his acclaimed 2017 documentary film, This is Congo, which is concluding a tour of theatres in the United States and is available on iTunes. https://www.thisiscongo.com/


 
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LEY UWERA

Ley Uwera is a Congolese photojournalist from Goma, South Kivu. Her work has appeared in Everyday Africa, BBC Afrique, and The Daily Beast, among other publications. In an interview with This is Africa (Jorrit R Dijkstra, July 7, 2015) Uwera says, “I shoot pictures because I would like the outside world to know more about some of the things that happen here but go unnoticed. I think those things are worth sharing.” http://leyuwera.tumblr.com/ / Instagram: @leyuwera1

 

Citation

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14 World Health Organization. (2018, August 12). Ebola Virus Disease - Democratic Republic of the Congo (Rep. No. 2). Retrieved August 21, 2018, from WHO website.
15 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2018, January 31). Democratic Republic of Congo: Internally Displaced Persons and Returnees (Issue brief). Retrieved August 9, 2018, from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/drc_factsheet_trim4_2017_en_07022018.pdf
16 Human Rights Watch. (2018, January 18). Democratic Republic of Congo: Events of 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/democratic-republic-congo
17 Chan, S. (2018, August 08). Joseph Kabila, Congo Strongman, Will Step Down After 17 Years in Power. Retrieved August 9, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/world/africa/joseph-kabila-congo.html
18 Mednick, S. (2018, August 03). Will Congo Go to the Polls-Or Go to War? Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/03/will-congo-go-to-the-polls-or-go-to-war-kabila-drc-rwanda-kivu/
19 Human Rights Watch. (2018, January 18). Democratic Republic of Congo: Events of 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/democratic-republic-congo
20 Defined as such by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which the DRC is a party to. Provisions against such abuses are present in the DRC’s constitution
21 United Nations Joint Human Rights Office. (2017). Report on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Context of the Events of 19 December 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved August 13, 2018.
22 United Nations Joint Human Rights Office. (2017). Report on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Context of the Events of 19 December 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved August 13, 2018.
23 Human Rights Watch. (2018, August 08). DR Congo: Repression Persists as Election Deadline Nears. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/29/dr-congo-repression-persists-election-deadline-nears
24 AFP. (2018, July 31). 40 held in DRC for protesting against sexual violence. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://citizen.co.za/news/news-africa/1989218/40-held-in-drc-for-protesting-against-sexual-violence/
25 Shaban, A. R. (2018, August 06). Katumbi talks tough over return to DRC, protests rock Lubumbashi. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from http://www.africanews.com/2018/08/07/katumbi-talks-tough-over-return-to-drc-protests-rock-lubumbashi/
26 Freedom House. (2018, January 16). Freedom of the Press 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/congo-democratic-republic-kinshasa
27 Committee to Protect Journalists. (2018, August 1). Congolese police detain journalists, seize equipment at Kinshasa TV studio. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://cpj.org/2018/08/congolese-police-detain-journalists-seize-equipmen.php
28Human Rights Watch. (2018, August 08). DR Congo: Repression Persists as Election Deadline Nears. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/29/dr-congo-repression-persists-election-deadline-nears
29 Freedom House. (2018, January 16). Freedom of the Press 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/congo-democratic-republic-kinshasa
30 Reporters Sans Frontières. (2018). Democratic Republic of Congo. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://rsf.org/en/democratic-republic-congo
31 United Nations Joint Human Rights Office. (2017). Report on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Context of the Events of 19 December 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved August 13, 2018.
32 Human Rights Watch. (2018). Political Prisoners in DR Congo (Rep.).
33Freedom From Torture. (2014). Rape as Torture in the DRC (Rep.). Retrieved August 19, 2018, from Freedom From Torture website.
34Human Rights Watch. (2018). Political Prisoners in DR Congo (Rep.).
35 United Nations Joint Human Rights Office. (2017). Report on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Context of the Events of 19 December 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved August 13, 2018.
36 Freedom From Torture. (2014). Rape as Torture in the DRC (Rep.). Retrieved August 19, 2018, from Freedom From Torture website.
37 Tear gas exposure can cause crying, coughing, sneezing, chemical burns, temporary blindness, and short-term breathing problems in victims, and has been linked to long-term asthma. Exploding gas canisters also propel shrapnel
38 United Nations Joint Human Rights Office. (2017). Report on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Context of the Events of 19 December 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved August 13, 2018.
39 Deutsche Welle. (2018, March 19). UN: DR Congo forces killing protesters with 'impunity'. Retrieved September 3, 2018, from https://www.dw.com/en/un-dr-congo-forces-killing-protesters-with-impunity/a-43039039
40 Human Rights Watch. (2018, August 08). DR Congo: Repression Persists as Election Deadline Nears. Retrieved August 19, 2018, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/29/dr-congo-repression-persists-election-deadline-nears
41 Ibid.
42 United Nations Joint Human Rights Office. (2017). Report on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Context of the Events of 19 December 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved August 13, 2018.
43 Human Rights Watch. (2018, August 08). DR Congo: Repression Persists as Election Deadline Nears. Retrieved August 19, 2018, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/29/dr-congo-repression-persists-election-deadline-nears
44 Reuters. (2018, February 12). South African military investigates Congo torture reports. Retrieved August 19, 2018, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-safrica-torture/south-african-military-investigates-congo-torture-reports-idUSKBN1FW18Q
45 Haider, H. (2017). Modern Slavery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Rep.). Retrieved August 21, 2018, from United Kingdom Department for International Development website.
46 United Nations. (2018, March 7). Briefing Security Council on Democratic Republic of Congo, Special Representative Underscores Need for Credible Electoral Process, Despite Unrest. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sc13238.doc.htm
47 Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de I'Homme. (2017). Slaughter in Kasai: Crimes against humanity perpetrated to create chaos. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/slaughter-kasai-crimes-against-humanity-perpetrated-create-chaos
48 World Health Organization. (2018, August 12). Ebola Virus Disease - Democratic Republic of the Congo (Rep. No. 2). Retrieved August 21, 2018, from WHO website.
49 Freedom From Torture. (2014). Rape as Torture in the DRC (Rep.). Retrieved August 19, 2018, from Freedom From Torture website.
50Peterman, A., Palermo, T., Bredenkamp, C. (June 1, 2011). “Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 6: pp. 1060-1067.
51 Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, & Oxfam America. (2010, April). Investigation of Sexual Violence in Eastern DRC (Rep.). Retrieved August 22, 2018.
52 Baaz, M. E., & Stern, M. (2010). The Complexity of Violence (Working paper). Retrieved August 22, 2018, from The Nordic Africa Institute website.
>53 Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, & Oxfam America. (2010, April). Investigation of Sexual Violence in Eastern DRC (Rep.). Retrieved August 22, 2018.
54 United Nations Human Rights Council. (2018, June 29). Rapport détaillé de l’Equipe d’experts internationaux sur la situation au Kasaï (Rep.). Retrieved August 22, 2018.
55Associated Press. (2016, November 29). Silent Victims of Violence: 4 Million Kids Orphaned in Congo. Retrieved August 22, 2018, from https://www.voanews.com/a/ap-silent-victims-of-violence-4-million-kids-orphaned-in-congo/3615601.html
56 United States Agency for International Development. (2018). Education - Democratic Republic of the Congo. Retrieved August 22, 2018, from https://www.usaid.gov/democratic-republic-congo/education
57 Mock, S. E., & Arai, S. M. (2010). Childhood Trauma and Chronic Illness in Adulthood: Mental Health and Socioeconomic Status as Explanatory Factors and Buffers. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 246. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00246
58 United States Department of State. (2017). 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report. Retrieved August 22, 2018, from https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2017/271168.htm
59 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018, June). Regional Update - The Democratic Republic of the Congo Situation (Rep.). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from UNHCR website.
60 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2018, January 31). Democratic Republic of Congo: Internally Displaced Persons and Returnees (Issue brief). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/drc_factsheet_trim4_2017_en_07022018.pdf
61 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018, June). Regional Update - The Democratic Republic of the Congo Situation (Rep.). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from UNHCR website.
>62 Central Intelligence Agency. (2018, August 20). The World Factbook - Democratic Republic of the Congo. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cg.html
63 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2018, January 31). Democratic Republic of Congo: Internally Displaced Persons and Returnees (Issue brief). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/drc_factsheet_trim4_2017_en_07022018.pdf
64 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. (2018). Democratic Republic of the Congo. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from http://www.internal-displacement.org/countries/drc
65 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2018, January 31). Democratic Republic of Congo: Internally Displaced Persons and Returnees (Issue brief). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/drc_factsheet_trim4_2017_en_07022018.pdf
66 United Nations News. (2017, December 22). Sharp rise in refugee arrivals to Uganda as fresh violence flares in DR Congo. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/12/640311-sharp-rise-refugee-arrivals-uganda-fresh-violence-flares-dr-congo-un-agency
67 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018, June). Regional Update - The Democratic Republic of the Congo Situation (Rep.). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from UNHCR website.
68 European Resettlement Network. (2013). Congolese Refugees. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.resettlement.eu/page/congolese-drc-refugees
69 The United States has agreed to admit 45,000 Congolese refugees in 2018. It had admitted 10,000 as of April
70 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018, June). Regional Update - The Democratic Republic of the Congo Situation (Rep.). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from UNHCR website.
71 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018, May). The Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Refugee Response Plan (Rep.). Retrieved August 27, 2018, from UNHCR website.
72 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018, July 31). Operational Portal - DRC Situation. Retrieved August 27, 2018, from https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/drc