Rights group calls for treaty to limit weapons in DRC News
Rights group calls for treaty to limit weapons in DRC
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[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called Tuesday for an end to the supply of arms [press release] to groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The report [text, PDF] highlights the flaws in Congolese security, which AI says allow for violations towards civilians by armed forces and groups due to the availability and misuse of weapons and ammunition. Paule Rigaud, AI’s Deputy Africa Programme Director, called for a worldwide, comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty to be implemented as a step toward eliminating this issue. In a statement, Rigaud said:

Until human rights safeguards are in place, states should end those transfers of military equipment to countries, like the DRC, where there is a substantial risk such supplies will be used to commit or to facilitate serious human rights violations and attacks against civilians. … With final negotiations for the Arms Trade Treaty less than three weeks away, governments have a historic opportunity to ensure this happens.

DRC’s main arms suppliers include China, Egypt, France, South Africa, Ukraine and the US. Senior members of the country’s armed forces reportedly often sell or donate weapons to armed groups.

DRC has been constantly criticized and urged by various parties to stop the human rights violations against civilians. In May, the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic [official profile] addressed [JURIST report] the recent increase in violence in the eastern DRC and the resulting human rights violations. 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 jointly as the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) a report alleging that military forces in DRC committed human rights violations [JURIST report] 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.