Congo-Kinshasa: 'Only Judicial Inquiries Will Help Characterize the Crimes' Committed By ADF in Eastern DRC

press release

Sy Koumbo S. Gali

During an online conversation with journalists from Beni, in North Kivu province, the Director of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO), Abdoul Aziz Thioye, put it clearly "only judicial investigations will help to accurately establish" the crimes committed by members of the armed group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), "to characterize these crimes and to bring the perpetrators" to justice.

He was thus commenting the report published by his office last Monday, July 6 about the attacks and violations of the human rights and international humanitarian law by the ADF combatants and members of the Defense and Security Forces in the territories of Beni, North Kivu province as well as in Irumu and Mambasa, Ituri province, between January 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020. The report underscores "ADF armed group's attacks can indeed constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes."

Sowing terror to strike the minds

During his briefing, Abdoul Aziz Thioye first explained to the journalists the reporting process, before going back to its content. He highlighted the capacity to cause untold damages by the ADF who, despite the ongoing military operations, continue to operate, using both firearms and knives, such as hatchets and machetes, with the ensuing "acts of horrific violence".

Their objective is clearly "to sow terror with the intent of striking the minds" and to stir a questioning of the effectiveness of the military operations supported by MONUSCO, yet, those operations made it possible to dismantle most of their bases, explained Mr. Aziz Thioye.

Dispersed by military operations, the ADF members are currently operating along the "route nationale 4 (RN4)" and in the territories of Irumu and Mambassa, Ituri province, where they continue to terrorize the populations.

UNJHRO Director also underlined the fact that the attacks target all the ethnic communities even if some groups are more affected than others.

Restoring the State Authority

Before answering the questions asked by the journalists who came in a large number to attend the meeting, UNJHRO Director, Abdoul Aziz Thioye, made a few recommendations, inter alia, to fight impunity, by reinforcing local judicial structures.

He also highlighted the possibility of making reparations to the persons affected by the violence, and of providing them with psycho-social support due to the trauma left by all those acts of violence.

According to him, "the restoration of the state authority in the areas affected by the attacks" will also be a guarantee of security for the displaced populations who need the International Community's assistance to return home.

It would also be important to not only "revisit" the early warning mechanisms to make the protection of civilians effective and prevent attacks; but also to create a regional momentum for the demobilization and repatriation of the foreign combatants through a DDRRR program, said Abdoul Aziz Thioye,

"This should not, however, be done to the detriment of Justice, because those who perpetrate human rights violations should not benefit from such a process," he said.

Responding to a journalist's question, UNJHRO Director explained the reasons for the extradition in 2015 of Jamil Mukulu, the chief of this armed group, to Uganda instead of the DRC after his arrest in Tanzania.

According to the Director of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, "nationality criterion" prevailed, since both the DRC and Uganda had made a request for the extradition.

He went on to say, "Congolese military Justice is using the regional Justice channel for a better representation of the DRC in the trial", currently underway in Uganda. This judicial cooperation between the two countries should help "ensure that justice is done to the Congolese populations".

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