Final Report of the Fact-Finding Missions of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office into the Mass Rapes and Other Human Rights Violations Committed by a Coalition of Armed Groups Along theKibua-Mpofi Axis in Walikale Territory, North Kivu

Friday, July 1, 2011
Central Africa
Congo (Kinshasa)

This report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) relates to the attacks on civilians by a coalition of armed groups in 13 villages along the Kibua-Mpofi axis in Walikale territory, North Kivu, between 30 July and 2 August 2010. It follows on the preliminary report on these attacks published by the UNJHRO on 24 September 2010. Since then, the UNJHRO has carried out additional investigations into these attacks and can confirm a higher number of victims comparing to the one published in September 2010.

Since the attacks, the UNJHRO has sent staff into the field three times to verify the allegations of sexual violence, including mass rapes, as well as other human rights violations which were allegedly committed during these attacks. As a result, the UNJHRO is able to conclude that at least 387 civilians, including 300 women, 23 men, 55 girls and 9 boys, were raped by a coalition of combatants from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and the Mayi Mayi Sheka, as well by residual elements of Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Nsengiyumva. In addition, at least 923 houses and 42 shops were looted, and 116 civilians were abducted and subjected to forced labour by the assailants.

The security situation in the targeted villages prior to the launching of the attacks makes it clear that the weakness of the State authority in Walikale territory has been one of the causes of the proliferation of the armed groups which have monopolized control over the mining industry and are trafficking arms in the region, thus causing increasing insecurity for the civilian population. The report also brings to light the existence of unofficial links between certain officers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and these armed groups, as well as their involvement in the mining industry, which has diverted them away from their main mission of protecting and defending Congolese citizens and reinforced the latter's feelings of neglect and distress.

In addition, the report provides information which could establish the responsibility of Captain Sérafin Lionso of the FDLR, Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the Commander in Chief of the Nduma Defense of Congo, the political branch of the Mayi Mayi Sheka, and Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Nsengiyumva for the crimes committed by their subordinates during these attacks in accordance with Article 28 of the Rome Statute. Even though the statements gathered by the UNJHRO staff has shown that these individuals did not directly participate in the attacks themselves, all three were well aware of the planning and organization of this operation, which was launched against an entire civilian population, and that they shared the spoils of the lootings at the end of the attacks.

While emphasizing that the primary responsibility for protecting civilians lies with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UNJHRO staff observed the difficulties encountered by the soldiers of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) based in Kibua in their mission to protect civilians, the core element of the MONUSCO mandate.

The report also covers the latest developments with regard to the investigations carried out by the military judicial authorities following the violations committed along the Kibua-Mpofi axis, as well as the threats, in particular death threats, which the victims, who cooperated with the latter and reported the violations, have received from FDLR combatants. Following these threats, victim and witness interviews were suspended, on 30 November 2010, in Walikale territory, although investigations are continuing at the time of drafting this report. To date, only Lieutenant Colonel Mayele has been arrested in connection with this investigation. No other arrests or charges have been made in spite of the investigations and the interviews of more than 150 victims and witnesses by the prosecutor's office at the Cour militaire opérationelle in Walikale thanks to the support of MONUSCO, UNDP and other partners during the months of October and November 2010.

This report highlights the serious nature of the acts of violence targeting civilians, the limitations of MONUSCO in implementing the protection of civilians in Kibua, and the weaknesses of the Congolese judicial system to pursue, arrest and punish the perpetrators of such crimes in accordance with national standards, and the relevant texts and laws applicable in the DRC. It then goes on with recommendations intended to ensure better protection of civilians and guarantee respect for international humanitarian and human rights law following these attacks.

Document PDF: 

Final Report of the Fact-Finding Missions of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office into the Mass Rapes and Other Human Rights Violations Committed by a Coalition of Armed Groups Along theKibua-Mpofi Axis in Walikale Territory, North Kivu