[JURIST] Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic [official profile] on Friday addressed [UN News Centre] the recent increase in violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the resulting human rights violations.The tension between government forces and dissident groups and militia has escalated during the recent weeks and fighting has resumed. This has detrimental effects on civilians who are forced to be displaced and are victims of human rights violations. Simonovic stressed that "restoring state authority, establishing the rule of law, protecting human rights and building accountable, democratic and professional security forces is a prerequisite for peace, stability and justice." Additionally, Andrej Mahecic, the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] announced [briefing notes] that the UNHCR has began to move Congolese refugees back to a northern province of the DRC since last Saturday. Through the voluntary repatriation program from Republic of Congo (ROC) [CIA World Factbook; JURIST news archive], the UNHCR aims at helping 49,000 refugees to return to DRC from ROC and 32,000 next year of which 85 percent are women and children.
The DRC has been constantly urged and criticized by various parties to stop the human rights violations against civilians. In March, the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) [official websites] released [JURIST report] jointly as the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) a report alleging that military forces in DRC committed human rights violations during the presidential elections last year. During the same month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] announced that it will seek the maximum sentence for a DRC militia leader after he was found guilty [JURIST reports] of war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15. Especially in 2011 various entities including the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and the MONUSCO urged DRC government to end post-election violence and all parties involved in the violence to remain calm [JURIST reports] and address any grievances through peaceful means.