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Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo

The Congolese National Police (PNC) operates under the Ministry of Interior and has primary responsibility for law enforcement and public order. The PNC includes the Rapid Intervention Police and the Integrated Police Unit. The ANR [National Intelligence Agency], overseen by the president’s national security adviser, is responsible for internal and external intelligence. The FARDC and the military intelligence service operate under the control of the Ministry of Defense and primarily are responsible for external security but also fulfill an internal security role. The presidency oversees the Republican Guard (RG), and the minister of interior oversees the Direction Generale de Migration, which is responsible for border control.

The Congolese Armed Forces, which was renamed the Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC), consists of an army, air force and navy. The Supreme Defense Council normally is composed of senior military and civilian authorities, including the Ministers of Defense and Interior, the National Security Advisor, the chief of the armed forces, heads of the military branches (air force, navy and army) and the four Vice Presidents, with the President presiding.

The FARDC remained a force that was continuously trying to integrate former rebels into a force structure that is itself oversized, unprofessional, and lacking training on almost all levels. The DRC government had no real command and control over many of these forces, particularly [as of 2011] the ex-CNDP forces that remained under the command of the ICC-indicted Jean Bosco Ntaganda.

By 2010 a culture of impunity and corruption compounded by the utter failure of the brassage process had made the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) an army in name only, and one whose human rights record is so abysmal that the DRC’s citizenry are at more risk from it than from many of the extralegal armed groups in the country.

This factor contributed to the second: the military stalemate in eastern DRC, because the FARDC was as likely to collaborate with or flee from illegal armed groups in the region as it is to fight them. The last issue was the change in FARDC leadership at both the civilian Minister of Defense (MoD) and military Chief of Defense (CHOD) levels, which had the potential to improve the military situation if they are given adequate resources.

Justice mechanisms particularly were ineffective at addressing misconduct by mid- and high-ranking officials. For example, the FARDC general headquarters recalled Colonel Richard Bisamaza, commander of the 807th regiment and the interim commander of the FARDC’s 81st military sector in Beni, to Kinshasa to investigate allegations of disloyalty and waste of ammunition. Upon being summoned to Kinshasa, he defected from the FARDC, presumably to the M23. On 03 September 2013, Bisamaza and 11 other deserters were arrested by the Ugandan Army in Uganda.

The law prohibits the FARDC and rebel and militia groups (RMGs) from engaging in the mineral trade, but the government did not effectively enforce the law. Criminal involvement by FARDC units and RMGs included protection rackets (such as protection fees paid by mining pit managers to avoid theft 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 theft). In addition FARDC units and RMGs routinely extorted illegal taxes from civilians and at times forced civilians to work for them or relinquish their mineral production.

Armed groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) as well as elements of the Congolese national army (FARDC) routinely used threats and coercion to force men and children to mine for minerals, turn over their mineral production, pay illegal “taxes,” or carry looted goods from mining villages.

Some FARDC commanders recruited, at times through force, men and child soldiers as young as nine years old for use as combatants, escorts, and porters. During the year 2013, the UN noted the continued presence of some children in FARDC training centers. In April 2012, the security situation in eastern DRC deteriorated rapidly when several hundred former members of the militia group National Congress for the Defense of the People who had been loosely integrated into the FARDC mutinied and formed the M23, an armed group backed by Rwanda. Among the mutineers were some of the worst offenders of trafficking crimes within the FARDC, including Bosco Ntaganda.

The government’s re-allocation of security personnel and resources toward fighting M23 rebels in North and South Kivu created a security vacuum in the areas from which the FARDC was forced to withdraw; the resulting increase in activity of other armed groups—such as the LRA and the FDLR—increased the vulnerability of men, women, and children to trafficking in the regions where these groups operated.

Soldiers of the FARDC, at times accompanied by other State agents, such as of the Police nationale congolaise (PNC), the Agence nationale de renseignements (ANR), the Direction générale de migration (DGM) and traditional chiefs were allegedly involved in serious human rights violations during early 2017. The violations were all perpetrated in the context of the operations against the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

While initially (towards the end of March 2017), human rights violations were mostly committed against those perceived as having a role in facilitating the occupation of villages by the Kamuina Nsapu militia, the security forces operations appeared to increasingly target the Luba and Lulua groups at large, as they started progressively associating the group in general with the militia and its claims.

While excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings by FARDC soldiers had been reported since August 2016, the alleged deployment of additional units from Kinshasa to Kamako from 5 April 2017, marked the beginning of major operations against the Kamuina Nsapu militia as well as of a harsh repression of the population perceived to have supported the Kamuina Nsapu’s occupation of Kamako.

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Page last modified: 12-08-2017 17:24:53 ZULU