The United States has recently been made aware of new reports of the Congolese government and militias engaging in horrific human rights violations and abuses in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC. The latest report accuses the Congolese military of summary executions of women and children and mass rape, and militias of sexual and gender-based violence, burning villages and mutilating and killing civilians, including children. Reports also indicate some State agents are involved in arming and directing militia.
The surge in violence in the Kasai regions is symptomatic of underlying trends across the DRC. In its report on human rights practices in 2016, the U.S. State Department identified unlawful killings; torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment; and sexual and gender-based violence, including rapes and abductions, as the major human rights abuses in the DRC.
Other major human rights problems in the DRC included disappearances; life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home; abuse of internally displaced persons; arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention; harassment of civil society and opposition leaders and the inability of citizens to change their government; corruption at all levels of government; and restrictions on freedom of speech and press.
As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley articulated, “These allegations [in the Kasai regions of the DRC] must be investigated and those responsible must be held accountable.”