[JURIST] Military forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) committed human rights violations during last year’s presidential elections, according to a report [text, PDF] published Tuesday by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO), consisting of the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) [official websites]. The UNJHRO investigated claims of election-related killings, arrests and disappearances in the capital city Kinshasa between November and December 2011. According to the report, 33 people were allegedly killed, 83 wounded, and more than 265 arrested and tortured in prison by members of the presidential guard, the National Congolese Police (PNC) and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). The report accuses the military forces of violating the Congolese Constitution [text, PDF] and calls on the Congolese judiciary to bring guilty parties to justice:
Members of the Congolese defense and security forces have thus breached the international standards concerning the rights to life, physical integrity, liberty and security of person and in particular have violated Articles 16, 17 and 18 of the Congolese Constitution. … The competent judicial authorities must ensure that members of the defense and security forces who are allegedly responsible for such violations be brought for their acts before the relevant authorities.
The UNJHRO urged the DRC government to immediately release individuals detained after the elections and to prosecute military officers suspected of involvement. The Congolese Minister of Justice and Human Rights has started an investigation into the human rights abuses.
The DRC held its second democratic election [UN News Centre report] in November 2011. President Joseph Kabila [BBC profile] won the first election [JURIST report] in December 2006, becoming the first freely-elected president of the DRC since the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960. Former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba [BBC profile] lost the 2006 election, after which his private militia force led a violent campaign against government troops until the DRC Supreme Court rejected his election challenge [JURIST report]. In the process, 30 people were killed and Bemba’s supporters set fire to the Supreme Court [JURIST report]. Bemba was arrested [JURIST report] in May 2008 by Belgian authorities after the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with large-scale sexual offenses committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and March 2003.