ASF concerned about surge in violence in Eastern Congo

Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)International justiceNews

Brussels/Bukavu, 12 January 2012Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) is concerned about the surge of violence that is affecting the civilian population in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since the beginning of the year, FDLR militias have committed numerous acts of violence  in the South and North Kivu provinces, resulting in at least 45 deaths and displacement of  inhabitants. ASF stresses the need to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity.

The recent confrontations between the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), various other armed groups and the regular Congolese army have taken a severe toll on the civilian population, which is extremely vulnerable and frightened. The victims are mainly inhabitants of small remote villages.  Those residents who are not killed are subjected to terrible torture; women are raped.  Homes are looted then burned.

ASF supports victims of international crimes before both Congolese courts and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, and is worried about this situation of perpetual insecurity. While observing this spike of violence against Congolese civilians, ASF notes the 16 December 2011 decision of the ICC judges to dismiss the charges pending against Callixte Mbarushimana, Executive Secretary of FDLR. Mbarushimana was suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Eastern Congo and, following that decision, released from custody on 23 December.

« Even if there is not necessarily a direct link between the recent violence and this decision, this nevertheless reinforces the idea that those who commit crimes go unpunished », according to Luc Meissner, Coordinator of ASF’s international justice project. « This release exacerbates the feeling of injustice that is already widely felt by people victimised by the fighting that persists in the region ».

ASF has been fighting against impunity for international crimes for more than ten years.  Its teams are taking all possible steps to ensure that the rights of victims of crimes committed in the DRC are fully recognised by Congolese courts as well as before the ICC.

ASF has been working in DR Congo since 2002, carrying out projects that aim to enhance access to justice for victims of international crimes and other violations of fundamental rights.

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