ASF in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Location: Kinshasa (Kinshasa) , Bunia (Ituri), Matadi (Kongo Central), Tshikapa (Kasaï) Date of establishment: 2002 Team: 23 collaborators Contact: jtroncoso@asf.be

General context

With a population of roughly 80,000,000, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second-biggest country in Africa. Despite elections in 2006 and 2011, which were considered democratic by the international community, DRC is struggling to end the cycle of conflict. Insecurity persists in the east, where it has been maintained for more than ten years by different armed groups, which have committed serious and massive human rights violations. Fuelled by extractive activities, the illegal trade in natural resources, and endemic corruption, these conflicts have left the population in a permanent climate of instability, which has led to a serious humanitarian crisis. The conflicts and violence have spread to other provinces in the country, including Kasai Province, which has seen large-scale violence since mid-2016.

Since the end of 2016, DRC has been undergoing a new political crisis due to President Kabila remaining as head of state despite his second and final term coming to an end. Peaceful demonstrations demanding democratic change have been frequently and violently repressed by the police, the army, and the intelligence services, who carried out many arrests and kidnappings in a severe restriction of the people’s democratic freedoms.

This tense climate is made worse by a very unstable economic and social situation. DRC has been hit hard by the impact of the international economic crisis on the prices of primary materials, including mining and logging resources, the country’s main sources of economic development.

The condition of justice

Despite many efforts to address the issue, people still face major obstacles in terms of access to justice. The national conference on justice held in 2015 highlighted the many challenges of an institutional and structural, material, financial, and even sociological nature, which the national policy for justice reform adopted in May 2017 is intended to address.

Nonetheless, the budget allocated to justice is currently still far too limited, which means that the provision of justice is weak and dysfunctional. Considering the country’s immense size, geographic coverage is a key issue. Access to a lawyer, moreover, is not guaranteed. In the absence of a functional and subsidised legal aid system, the cost of a lawyer’s services is still unaffordable for most people. Moreover, most lawyers are based in big urban areas, so the majority of Congolese people have no access to their services.

Finally, there is a lack of knowledge among the people about their rights and the means of exercising them, especially in rural areas. They also express a growing mistrust of judicial institutions, due to the latent corruption of the people who work in them, the low rate of implementation of decisions, and the high economic and social cost of legal procedures. As a result, most citizens continue to turn to traditional authorities to resolve their conflicts.

Projects

News

March 25, 2024

Congolese civil society alarmed by the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty

Civil society actors and international human rights organisations working in the Democratic Republic of Congo are very concerned by the decision of the government of Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo to lift the moratorium on the execution of the death penalty, communicated by circular note No 002 of 13 March 2024. The signatory organisations deplore this decision, which violates the constitutional principle of the sanctity of human life and constitutes a major step backwards in terms of respect for human rights and democracy

Security and freedom | Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)

February 22, 2024

Ituri: Impact of the state of siege on criminal justice

En mai 2021, l’État congolais a décrété un régime exceptionnel d’état de siège dans la province de l’Ituri pour tenter de mettre fin à plus de trois décennies de violence dans la région. L’ituri est le théâtre de guerres, d’insurrections et de violents conflits armés sur fond de crise de légitimité politique, de crise identitaire et de compétition régionale autour de l’exploitation des ressources naturelles. Le présent rapport opère un état des lieux de la mise en œuvre des mesures relatives à l’état de de siège et ses impacts délétères sur les droits des populations et sur la justice

Access to justice and development | Security and freedom | Sexual violence | Victim’s rights | Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)

February 20, 2024

ExPEERience #13: Rendering justice without courts? Experiences of community justice in Ituri

At this ExPEErience Talk, Julien Moriceau and Janvier Digital Koko Kirusha from INANGA, and Johnny Lobho Lamula from ASF in the DRC, will present a study on community justice in Ituri, which will be published in the coming days.

Access to justice and development | Local justice | Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)

Publications

March 22, 2024

(French) Congolese civil society alarmed by the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty

Economic, social and cultural rights | Security and freedom | Torture | Congo (the Democratic Republic of the) | Press Release

February 20, 2024

(French) Impact of the state of siege on criminal justice in Ituri

Access to justice and development | Security and freedom | Congo (the Democratic Republic of the) | Study-Report

December 6, 2023

Ezekere case – Military Court upholds convictions and grants full exemption from legal costs to victims, a first in Ituri

International justice | Sexual violence | Transitional justice | Congo (the Democratic Republic of the) | Press Release