Congo. The eastern parts of the Congo consolidated their terrible position during the year as the world’s most rape-ravaged area. The two Kivu provinces are haunted by uninhibited militias, which are sometimes referred to as the government army and regularly plunder villages and rape women and children.
According to a study published in May in the American Journal of Public Health, an average of 1,100 rapes are committed each day in the Congo, about 26 times more than previous estimates. The study was based on a twelve-month period in 2006–07, when over 400,000 rapes were reported. The United Nations Security Council condemned in sharp terms the sexual assaults in Congo and in particular that army officers who have been guilty of human rights violations had been promoted.
Occasionally, soldiers were held accountable for their abuse. Four officers were sentenced in February to each 20 years in prison and five subordinates to 10-15 years for raping some 60 women in a village in revenge during New Year’s Eve for a person from there had killed a soldier in a brawl.
According to Countryaah official site, a UN investigation identified three militia groups responsible for an orgy in sexual violence in 13 villages in the Northern Kivu province for three days in 2010, when nearly 400 women are alleged to have been raped. They were a local Mai Mai militia, the Rwandan Hutu movement FDLR (the Democratic Forces for Rwanda’s Liberation), and a patron gathered around an army deserter. One of the top leaders of the FDLR, Callixte Mbarushimana, was handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in January after being arrested in France in 2010. He was charged on a total of eleven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Congo, but was then acquitted and released the judges found that the evidence was insufficient.
Four police officers, including the former Deputy Chief of the National Police Intelligence Service, were sentenced in May to death for the 2010 murder of leading human rights activist Floribert Chebeya. One police officer was sentenced to life imprisonment while three co-accused were acquitted.
2011 was an election year in Congo, and the electoral movement can be said to have started an armed attack in February against President Joseph Kabila’s residence. About ten people were killed in the attack, which also targeted an army base nearby. A month earlier, Parliament had approved an amendment to the electoral law, which meant that the president could henceforth be elected by a simple majority, whereas in the past an absolute majority was required. The change was justified by the government because it wanted to avoid a second round of elections for savings reasons. The opposition interpreted it as an attempt to facilitate Kabila to be re-elected.
The more election day at the end of November approached, the more the tension in the country increased. The longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who boycotted the 2006 election, drew a sharp warning from the government for calling himself president and urging the “people” to release supporters of him imprisoned in connection with the unrest during the election movement. UN reporters said they have registered more than 200 cases of violence related to the election.
The UN Human Rights Office’s report accused the authorities of using security forces to strike down the regime’s political opponents. Among other things, a law was used that prohibits insulting the head of state from silencing criticism of the president. During the last day of the election campaign, the riot police shot at least 14 supporters to Tshisekedi, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch said.
Four of Kabila’s ten challengers demanded, after the first election day, that the election be annulled due to extensive cheating and violence. There were many complaints about incomplete voting lengths, lack of ballot papers and information about fake polling stations with pre-filled ballots. However, five African observer groups congratulated the authorities for a successful election.
The Election Commission declared Kabila a winner with 49% of the vote, ahead of Tshisekedi with 32%. The latter was supported in his criticism of the choice of international observers. The US Carter Center questioned that turnout could have been claimed 99-100% in strong Kabila parties – and with almost all votes for the president – and that nearly one-fifth of the votes cast in Kinshasa, where Tshisekedi has strong support, “disappeared”. The US government judged the election “very flawed”, but Congo’s supreme court approved the result and Kabila was able to hold office for another five years. Tshisekedi also proclaimed victorious, had arranged his own installation ceremony and, as “president”, urged the army not to take orders from Kabila.