President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Felix Tisekedi. (Photo by Michele Tantusi / Getty Images)

  • DRC President Felix Tisekedi imposed a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri last year to fight armed groups and protect civilians.
  • Extensive powers given to the military have resulted in at least a thousand civilian deaths in the two provinces during the year.
  • Amnesty International says the state has used the siege to silence those who demand accountability for their actions in the affected provinces.

A year after the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) imposed a state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Itura, the number of civilians killed by armed groups has doubled, according to a new Amnesty International (AI) report.

According to the AI, the state of siege – similar to a state of emergency – was used as a tool to suppress dissent: two human rights defenders were killed by security forces and dozens of activists were arbitrarily detained on trumped-up charges.

Al Director of East and South Africa Deproz Muchena, commenting on the findings in a report entitled “DRC: Justice and Freedom under Siege in North Kivu”, said the state of siege is characterized by lawlessness on the part of state actors.

“In complete disregard of the law, the defense and security forces have been given broad powers that are not justified by the stated purpose of the state of siege, which they used to silence all those who demand responsibility for the state’s actions in the conflict. provinces, ”he added.

There are fears that if the state of siege, which began on May 3 last year, is not lifted, it could become a new normal and stifle freedom.

“[DRC] President Felix Tsisekedi must remove all restrictions on human rights and ensure that the siege does not become a permanent regime by setting a clear timetable for ending the restrictions, ”Muchena said.

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Initially, Cisekedi introduced the measure to fight armed groups and protect civilians, but the number of civilian casualties as a result of armed conflicts in the region has more than doubled.

According to the report, citing UN figures, more than a thousand civilians were killed and no one was charged.

The report said:

According to the United Nations, the death toll among civilians between June 2021 and March 2022 rose to at least 1,261

Parliamentarians and pro-democracy activists who have openly spoken out against the siege are called enemies of the state.

AI told of 22-year-old Mumbery Ushindi, who was killed by police after he staged a peaceful demonstration.

The statement said that “he was shot dead by police during a protest against the fact that the state of siege did not stop the killing of civilians. He died of gunshot wounds on January 24, 2022. “

22-year-old La Fontaine Katsaruhande, an activist who works with Fight for Change (LUCHA), had his right leg amputated after a police officer shot him on September 21, 2021, in a peaceful protest that also condemned the continued deaths of civilians despite Sedimentary state, the report said.

The situation of the civilian population is deteriorating because military courts are empowered to hear criminal cases, and this undermines the right to a fair trial.

In November 2021, 12 LUCHA activists arrested in Benny were sentenced by military courts to one year in prison for expressing concern that the state of the environment did not protect civil liberties.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hans Seidel Foundation. The stories prepared by the African Bureau, as well as the opinions and statements that may be contained in this article, do not reflect the stories of the Hans Seidel Foundation.

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