Briefing Notes - DRC; OHCHR Annual Report


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell


Location: Geneva Date: 5 June 2020 Subject:

1) DRC 2) OHCHR Annual Report

1) DR Congo Around 1,300 civilians have been killed in a number of separate conflicts involving armed groups and government forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past eight months. Some of the incidents involving killings and other abuses and violations may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. The number of victims has soared in recent weeks as separate conflicts in three eastern provinces – Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu – have spread. Armed groups have committed massacres and other atrocities, and defence and security forces have also been responsible for grave human rights violations in these provinces - as well as in other parts of the country. “I am appalled by the increase in brutal attacks on innocent civilians by armed groups - regarding the grave violations by military and security force, including killings and sexual violence, these are not only reprehensible and criminal acts, but they also break the trust between people and the state representatives, both security and political,” Bachelet said. In Ituri province, the violence has spread into new areas as armed groups have multiplied. The attacks and the nature of the violence committed by the armed groups have grown increasingly gruesome, including sexual violence, beheadings and mutilation of corpses. Between 1 October 2019 and 31 May 2020, at least 531 civilians were killed by armed groups in Ituri - 375 of them since March. Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and police (PNC) also allegedly killed 17 civilians during the same period. In North Kivu - the launch of military operations by the government forces in November 2019 led to retaliatory attacks against civilians by the main armed group, the ADF. By 31 May the ADF had killed at least 514 civilians using machetes, axes and heavy weapons, and has been abducting children and attacking schools and hospitals. State defence forces have also been heavily implicated, with the FARDC reported to have killed 59 civilians and the PNC to have killed 24. Protection of civilians is the responsibility of the state, and when the state leaves a vacuum, others tend to fill it. In DRC, past experience shows this can have catastrophic results. The generalised and systematic nature of some of the attacks on civilians in both Ituri and North Kivu may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes,” she added. A press release by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet was released earlier today containing more details on the situation in Ituri and North Kivu, as well information of killings of civilians in other parts of the DRC, namely South Kivu, Kongo Central and Kinshasa. TV footage is available to illustrate this story. See sample here

2) OHCHR Annual Report Today, the High Commissioner is launching the UN Human Rights Report 2019, which presents the results achieved last year by the UN Human Rights Office through the extensive work of its more than 1,400 staff based in its Geneva headquarters and in 84 field presences all over the world. These results were achieved under significant funding constraints. The cash flow crisis that the UN faces led to further cuts in our regular budget in 2019, of around 16% compared to 2018. This situation has made it impossible for the Office to honour all its mandated activities and has made us more dependent on voluntary contributions. Unfortunately our voluntary income in 2019 also decreased -- by 4.3% --compared to 2018. As the UN’s financial crisis continues in 2020, while the demands for our expertise and support keep growing, we are asking States for more flexible, timely and predictable voluntary contributions, in order to deliver what is expected of us. ENDS

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