Geneva, Kinshasa and Goma, 25 July 2012 – The security situation in North Kivu province has seriously deteriorated after clashes between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and a number of armed groups in the province, particularly the M23 mutineers, a movement resulting from the Goma agreement of 23 March 2009. Multiple acts of torture and other human rights violations have been committed.
These clashes have escalated in Masisi and Rutshuru territories because of the manhunt for General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Parallel to these clashes, the civilian population in these territories is suffering multiple human rights violations. ACAT DRC has in particular noted acts of torture, arbitrary arrests, rapes, abductions, murders and the burning down of houses, which are causing massive population displacement. Rutshuru territory has suffered the most from the atrocities; over 200,000 displaced persons have been recorded since May 2012.
ACAT DRC North Kivu branch has been able to document 16 torture cases, mainly in Rutshuru territory, that can be attributed to M23 fighters but equally can be attributed to the FARDC and to the national Congolese police. In this context of impunity, beatings by members of the national police force using batons, rifle butts or machetes to obtain confessions or money have multiplied.
The prevailing insecurity in the province and the displacement of populations mean that it is almost impossible for victims to file a complaint. FIACAT has therefore sent information on these torture cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture in order to inform and prompt him to tackle this seriously worrying situation.
FIACAT, ACAT DRC and its North Kivu branch call on the Congolese Government to do everything possible to ensure the security of civilian populations in North Kivu and to take effective measures to combat acts of torture in places of imprisonment, particularly in Rutshuru and Masisi territories.
The Congolese State must bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice in order to combat the continuing impunity in North Kivu.