DRC rights violations rife despite peace - Oxfam

2015-03-07 14:36
An anti government protestor, centre, is arrested by Congo riot troops, during a protest in the DRC. (AP)

An anti government protestor, centre, is arrested by Congo riot troops, during a protest in the DRC. (AP)

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Kinshasa - A two-year peace deal in the Democratic Republic of Congo has done little to improve human rights, with armed groups and state security forces abusing civilians with impunity, a report said on Friday.

The report Secure Insecurity, by Britain-based charity Oxfam, says that despite efforts by the Congolese authorities, "citizens continue to experience widespread exploitation".

"In many areas they are still vulnerable to brutal violence from armed groups and in some cases from [the] government, including the police, army and local officials," it said.

"The challenge -- how to consolidate the authority of the state, in a way that serves its people and ensures a lasting peace -- remains a huge but vital priority," it added.

The aid group interviewed people living in 16 villages in mineral-rich North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, where residents suffered intense abuses by local and foreign armed groups fighting for ethnic and economic reasons.

"Overall, the research reveals how little progress has been made towards building legitimate and credible state authority in many parts of eastern [DR Congo], a disturbing conclusion," said Oxfam.

Further, state authorities have adopted the practices of armed groups that once overran the east of the DRC.

"Oxfam heard of... officials extorting money at illegal roadblocks, or through illegal taxation at markets -- the same tactics that civilians have come to expect from armed groups," said the report.

Once referred to as the "rape capital of the world", DR Congo has also failed to improve avenues for redress for women victims, said the report.

"As a woman in her early thirties told Oxfam: 'When I went to see the chief about a case of rape in our district, the chief told me that justice doesn't concern women,'" it added.

The cost of the failure to implement real reform, Oxfam said, is "continuing violence and extortion".

The report cites a woman in the Ruzizi Plain area of Uvira as she gives a chilling testimony of life in the lawless east: "Today, the bodies of two people were found, just a few metres from my home. We don't know where to turn, we just want some fresh air; we want peace."

Read more on:    oxfam  |  drc  |  central africa

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