Both local and foreign-influenced conflicts continued in mineral-rich parts of the East, particularly in North Kivu and South Kivu, Katanga, Bas Uele and Haut Uele districts of Orientale Province, and to a lesser degree, the Ituri District of Orientale. Conflict, centered around Rutshuru, North Kivu, reignited when former CNDP elements, who had been integrated into the FARDC, began defecting in April and formed the “March 23 Movement,” or M23 (which occasionally used the name Congolese Revolutionary Army). The defection of forces loyal to former CNDP leaders Bosco Ntaganda and Sultani Makenga led the SSF to shift its focus and forces to North and South Kivu, where the M23 operated, creating a security vacuum in areas from which FARDC elements withdrew. The UN Group of Experts on the DRC (UNGOE), HRW, and other observers reported that M23 received a wide range of support from the Rwandan government and, to a lesser extent, from individuals in Uganda.
Foreign RMG, including Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) and the LRA, indigenous RMG that were supported by foreign governments such as the M23, and some Mai-Mai (local militia) groups increasingly formed loose coalitions during the year and continued to battle government forces and each other and to attack civilian populations. Alliances frequently changed between local militias in apparent attempts to profit from a dynamic situation. Many Mai Mai groups took advantage of the SSF focus on the M23 and the resulting security vacuum. Consequently, a sharp increase occurred in the number of human rights violations in both North Kivu and South Kivu, committed in particular by the M23 in Rutshuru Territory, Mai Mai Lumumba in Lubero Territory, and Raia Mutomboki and Nyatura in South Kivu and North Kivu. The intensified fighting in the East, which impeded humanitarian aid in some areas, increased the number of displaced persons to more than 2.4 million by year’s end, exacerbating an already severe humanitarian crisis.
MONUSCO continued to assist the government in seeking to establish and maintain peace and security, particularly in the East. In June the UN Security Council extended MONUSCO’s mandate for 12 months and reiterated its mandate to protect civilians. At year’s end MONUSCO was comprised of approximately 19,000 peacekeepers, military observers, and police.
Killings: According to reports by UN agencies and NGOs, SSF summarily executed or otherwise killed civilians. Impunity remained a significant problem, and several senior SSF officers continued to hold their positions despite credible evidence of their direct involvement in serious human rights abuses or failure to hold subordinates accountable for such abuses (see section 1.d.).
Abductions: UN agencies and NGOs reported that RMG and some SSF abducted individuals. Generally, individuals were abducted to serve as porters, guides, or in some other capacity.
For additional information see the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at 2009-2017.state.gov/j/tip.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: UN agencies and NGOs also reported that SSF arrested, illegally detained, raped, and tortured civilians. The most common offense, by the FARDC in particular, was the looting of villages during military actions against RMG.
There were credible reports from the UNJHRO and other human rights organizations that between November 20 and November 30, 2012 SSF committed multiple killings, rape and plunder in and around the town of Minova, North Kivu. At least 126 women and girls were reported raped in the incident. Two soldiers were arrested in November in connection with the rapes in Minova. At year’s end the government’s investigation was ongoing.
RMG committed numerous serious abuses, especially in rural areas of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale, killing, raping, and torturing civilians. Increasingly during the year, RMG forcibly recruited individuals, including children, to serve as porters, guides, and combatants. In certain areas in the East, RMG looted, extorted, and illegally taxed and detained civilians, often for ransom.
For example, on June 24 and 25, nearly 100 fighters suspected of belonging to Mai Mai Lumumba twice attacked the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Mambasa Territory. At least six civilians and six wardens were killed, and at least 51 women were raped. The attackers also looted the village. More than 100 individuals were abducted to be porters, and 22 women were used as sex slaves. Seventeen of these 22 were presumed to be in the perpetrators’ custody at year’s end. The military prosecutor opened an investigation and issued an arrest warrant for “Morgan,” the reported leader of the Mai Mai Lumumba group.
No progress was made in the trial of the seven surviving individuals accused of organizing the 2010 Walikale mass rapes. In July and August 2010, a coalition of the FDLR, Mai-Mai Cheka, Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, and combatants led by Colonel Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, a former member of the CNDP and FARDC, allegedly raped 303 women, children, and men in 13 villages in Walikale, North Kivu. The perpetrators also looted more than 1,000 homes and abducted 116 civilians, whom they subjected to forced labor. According to the UN, one of the villages attacked, Luvungi, where more than 100 persons were raped, was a lucrative target because it was a mining hub located only four miles from gold mines. One arrested individual escaped Goma’s central prison when the city was overtaken by M23 on November 20. All seven accused in the case remained at large. By year’s end no date had been set for the trial to reconvene.
During the year men, women, and minors were raped as part of the violence among RMG and between RMG and the FARDC. Statistics for rape, especially rape of males, were difficult to compile. Heal Africa, an NGO headquartered in Goma, recorded 178 male and 2,339 female survivors of sexual violence, including 745 minors, in 14 clinics in North Kivu in the first six months of the year.
Child Soldiers: The recruitment and use of children in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces by RMG and the FARDC continued (particularly within the poorly integrated elements, including ex-CNDP). The government took steps to reduce and limit the use of child soldiers, including by signing and initiating the implementation of a UN-backed Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, starting awareness campaigns for FARDC personnel, and working with partner organizations to ensure children were not recruited by the FARDC and to develop training materials. In addition FARDC commanders made an increased effort to remove child soldiers, particularly when FARDC elements retook command of units that had been led by ex-CNDP commanders. In multiple instances incoming FARDC commanders requested assistance from MONUSCO, UNICEF, or other humanitarian organizations and transferred children to their care.
Also see the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at 2009-2017.state.gov/j/tip.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: Fighting between the FARDC and RMG continued to displace populations and limit humanitarian access to conflict areas, particularly in the eastern part of the country. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were 215 security incidents against humanitarian agency personnel during the year. All but 18 of those were in North and South Kivu. (From January to September 2011, there were 116 security incidents against humanitarian workers.)
In North Kivu and South Kivu, RMG and elements of the FARDC continued to illegally exploit and trade natural resources for revenue and power. Clandestine trade in minerals and other natural resources facilitated the purchase of weapons and reduced government revenues. The natural resources most exploited were the minerals cassiterite (tin ore), coltan (tantalum ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), and gold, followed by timber, charcoal, and fish. According to media and other reports, the LRA began trafficking in ivory from elephants in Garamba National Park to finance its operations.
The illegal trade in minerals continued to be both a symptom and a cause of the conflict in the Kivu provinces. However, due to enhanced government regulation of the mining and trade of cassiterite and coltan, little legal exportation from North Kivu and South Kivu took place during the year. RMG continue to control and threaten remote mining areas in North Kivu and South Kivu. The M23 imposed illegal taxation on vehicular trade in parts of North Kivu, ensuring profits from smugglers.
The law prohibits the FARDC and RMG from engaging in the mineral trade. However, the government did not effectively enforce the law. Criminal involvement by FARDC units and RMG included protection rackets (such as protection fees paid by mining pit managers to avoid pillage or to facilitate smuggling), indirect commercial control (including the use of illegal “tax” revenues to buy and sell minerals near mining sites), and direct coercive control (including pillage). In addition FARDC units and RMG routinely extorted illegal taxes from civilians and at times forced civilians to work for them or relinquish their mineral production.
The UNGOE reported that several RMG and units of SSF profited from illegal trade and exploitation in the mineral sector and that smuggling of minerals through Rwanda and Burundi increased. In July the government authorized all export houses, including TTT/CMM and Huaying Trading Company (which it had ordered closed in 2011), to export their “stock” minerals that originated in Maniema Province, which it deemed conflict-free. The UNGOE reported that exports resumed and that both TTT/CMM and Huaying used this “stock” provision to mix and insert minerals of indeterminate origin into their stock exports.
There were credible reports that the following armed groups perpetrated serious human rights abuses in DRC during the year: Alliance des Patriots pour un Congo Libre et Souverain (APCLS), ADF/NALU, Coalition of Ituri Armed Groups, FDLR, Forces Nationales de Liberation, Forces de la Defense Congolaise (FDC-Luanda), Forces de Resistance Patriotique d’Ituri, LRA, M23 (aka Congolese Revolutionary Army), Nyatura, Patriotes Resistants Congolaise, Raia Mutomboki, and the following Mai Mai groups: Cheka, Gedeon, Kifuafua, Lumumba, Morgan/Simba/Manu/Luc, Pareco, Shetani, and Yakutumba.