Democratic Republic of the Congo
The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/66/782-S/2012/261) issued on 26 April 2012.
Child protection actors documented 272 cases of recruitment and use of children (259 boys and 13 girls) during the reporting period. Of these, 266 cases reportedly occurred in North and South Kivu, four in Orientale Province and two in Maniema. The Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) was allegedly responsible for the largest number, followed by Mai-Mai groups and the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR). Other alleged perpetrators include the Ugandan armed group the Allied Democratic Forces/National Liberation Army of Uganda (ADF/NALU) and the Forces républicaines fédéralistes (FRF). Other cases of child recruitment were attributed to new local defence groups and non-integrated units of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP). Most children were used as escorts, cooks and/or porters. A majority of the children were between the ages of 11 and 17 years at the time of recruitment; 12 children were under age 10.
Ten cases of killing and 14 cases of maiming of children were documented in 2011. Most were allegedly perpetrated by FARDC (six cases of killing and nine cases of maiming). Three cases of maiming were attributed to the Police nationale congolaise, one case of killing to a Mai-Mai group, and the remaining cases were attributed to unidentified armed elements.
Sexual violence against children was committed by all parties and continued to be a serious concern in 2011. The majority of documented cases were perpetrated by Government security forces. A total of 108 cases of rape (including 3 cases against boys) were documented. Of these, 86 cases occurred in North and South Kivu and 22 in Orientale Province. Sixty-seven cases were attributed to FARDC, 17 to various Mai-Mai groups, 10 to the Police nationale congolaise, 4 to FDLR and 2 to the Front de résistance patriotique en Ituri/Front populaire pour la justice au Congo (FRPI/FPJC). Twelve cases of rape against children allegedly occurred during mass rape incidents in Mutongo/Walikale, North Kivu, between 8 and 10 and 22 and 23 June 2011. The perpetrators were allegedly affiliated to the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS). Most of the child victims were between the ages of 8 and 17 years; five victims were under the age of 6.
The number of attacks against schools and health centres increased in 2011, with 53 incidents against schools and health centres taking place in the Kivus and Orientale Province, compared with 23 incidents in 2010. FDLR was responsible for 21 cases of destruction and looting of schools and health centres in 2011. Mai-Mai groups were responsible for six cases and ADF/NALU for one case. FARDC was responsible for several incidents, mainly involving looting, and in two cases the use of schools.
Humanitarian access continued to be hampered in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout 2011. For instance, five humanitarian workers were killed during an attack allegedly carried out by Mai-Mai elements in South Kivu in October. Cases of kidnappings of humanitarian workers were also reported. Goma, Masisi and Rutshuru territories in North Kivu and Bukavu, and Uvira territory in South Kivu, were the most affected. The security vacuum that followed the temporary redeployment of FARDC in the context of the regimentation process was exploited by armed groups, including FDLR and various Mai-Mai groups, to re establish their position in vacated areas, preventing humanitarian access.
Three years after the adoption of the Child Protection Law in January 2009 and the criminalization of child recruitment, no perpetrators of recruitment and use of children were prosecuted and convicted, despite the fact that many of them — including at the senior level — were clearly identified. Perpetrators such as Bosco Ntaganda, Innocent Zimurinda and Baudoin Ngaruye, remain in the FARDC command structure, and some, such as Biyoyo Josue, have received promotions. Others who have been tried and sentenced remain at large. For example, Mai-Mai chief Kyungu Mutanga, alias Gedeon, sentenced to death in March 2009 for crimes against humanity and for recruitment and use of children, escaped from prison in September 2011 and resumed activities in North Katanga. Despite advocacy efforts, no action was taken by the FARDC “Amani Leo” hierarchy in South Kivu to investigate the looting of 10 schools by FARDC elements between August and September 2011.
A positive development was the arrest and prosecution of FARDC and Police nationale congolaise suspects who allegedly perpetrated acts of sexual violence against children: 44 FARDC and Police nationale congolaise elements allegedly involved in 77 cases of rape perpetrated in 2011 were arrested, and 18 were tried. Two were acquitted owing to a lack of evidence and 16 were imprisoned and obliged to pay financial compensation to the victims.
Information on progress made by parties to conflict on dialogue, action plans and the release of children
Despite entering its seventh year on my list of parties that commit grave violations against children, the Government and FARDC made little progress towards the development and implementation of an action plan to halt the recruitment and use of children. Nevertheless, the Ministries of Defence and of Justice and Human Rights created a joint inter-ministerial committee/working group to discuss an action plan to end recruitment and use of children by FARDC in line with Security Council resolution 1612 (2005).
While some progress was made in separating children from FARDC through the security sector reform process, concerns remain over the ineffectiveness of the mechanisms to verify the ages of incoming recruits, further compounded by low levels of birth registration.
In 2011, 1,244 children (1,226 boys and 18 girls) were separated from armed forces and groups, in North Kivu (69 per cent), South Kivu (23 per cent) and Orientale Province (7.6 per cent). Forty-two of the children were foreigners (40 Rwandans and 2 Ugandans). Three factors explain the higher number of documented releases in North Kivu: FARDC operations against armed group operations in the province; the comparatively high presence of protection actors; and the difficulty of accessing many locations in South Kivu and Orientale Province. In July 2011, General Kirikicho Mirimba, commander of the Mai-Mai Kirikicho armed group operating in South Kivu, made a written commitment to separate children from the ranks of his armed group.
Most of the children separated during 2011 had been recruited and used by FDLR, various Mai-Mai groups and FARDC. The majority escaped and approached bases or partners of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) for assistance; others were identified through MONUSCO screenings during FARDC “regimentation”, biometric registration and training events. Most of the 1,244 children released had been recruited before 2011 and had been associated with armed forces and armed groups between one and three years, corresponding to the 2008-2011 period of increased hostilities between armed groups and FARDC, as well as clashes between armed groups such as CNDP and the Patriotes résistants congolais (PARECO). It is unclear whether the small number of girls separated in 2011 reflects the extent of girls’ association with armed forces or armed groups. Child protection actors commonly identify girls long after they have separated from an armed force or armed group.
Parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), including integrated elements from various armed groups, including the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP), formerly led by Laurent Nkunda as well as elements currently led by Bosco Ntaganda (* a, c )
- Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR). (* a, c, d )
- Front de résistance patriotique en Ituri/Front populaire pour la justice au Congo (FRPI/FPJC) ( a, c )
- Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) (* a, c )
- Mai-Mai groups in North and South Kivu, including the Patriotes résistants congolais (PARECO) (* a, c )
* The parties which are underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators.
a) Parties that recruit and use children.
c) Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children.
d) Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals.