Bleak Amnesty report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Posted in Africa | 28-May-09 | Source: The Guardian (UK)

Internally displaced children at a camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to Home Office figures for the first quarter of 2009, 20 failed asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were removed from the UK and sent back or returned there voluntarily. In the same period, a further five left the UK for the DRC under the assisted voluntary return programme.

Amnesty International's last annual global report painted a bleak picture of human rights in the country, which has been ravaged by conflict and corruption for more than a decade.

It said: "Unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by the security forces and by armed groups were common across the country, in many cases directed at perceived political opponents. Rape by security force members and armed group fighters continued at high levels."

The report criticised the country's "ill-disciplined" police and security forces for operating with scant regard for Congolese or international law, and accused them of committing the majority of human rights violations.

Amnesty's survey described the DRC's civilian justice system as "absent or barely functioning in many areas" and lacking "independence, resources and personnel", adding: "There were lengthy delays in bringing people to court, although trials themselves were often summary. There were frequent instances of political and military interference in the administration of justice."

The group also noted that human rights defenders were subjected to attacks and death threats - apparently by government agents.