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Rights group claims DR Congo conflict prolonged by corporations

[JURIST] International corporations that purchase minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo [BBC country profile] are responsible for prolonging the conflict in the African country, according to a report [text, PDF] issued Tuesday by human rights group Global Witness [advocacy website]. The report was critical of several specific corporations, including Amalgamated Metal Corporation, Afrimex, and Traxys [corporate websites], for "turning a blind-eye" to the source of minerals they purchase and then sell to manufacturers. In the war-torn country, the Congolese military and numerous militia groups control mines responsible for production of gold and wolframite, and the report alleges that the unregulated market brings significant profit to these groups [BBC report], fueling the conflict. The report concluded that despite some promising developments, there is still much work to be done to end the conflict, and that ending the conflict will not be easy:

The stakes are high, and those benefiting from the illicit exploitation of resources will not be willing to give up these riches easily. As evidence by patterns of the last 12 years, it is in the interests of all sides in the conflict, as well as unscrupulous businessmen, to prolong the anarchy, as it delivers financial benefits without accountability.

The current conflict in the DR Congo has been one of the most deadly in the world, claiming an estimated 45,000 [Guardian report] lives per month. While international corporations are still the focus of human rights groups, the international criminal community has taken a greater interest in prosecuting perpetrators of atrocities in the Congo. Earlier this month, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) concluded their case [JURIST report] in the trial of ex-Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. Lubanga is on trial for war crimes, including recruiting children to join the army. The ICC also recently ordered rebel leader Jean Pierre Bemba to stand trial [JURIST report] for atrocities committed during the decade-long conflict.

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