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Human rights violations in DRC

31 July 2010 marked the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Pascal Kabungulu, head of Christian Aid PartnerHéritiers de la Justice. 

Kabungulu was shot in his home because of his investigations into human rights abuses in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

His family and colleagues are still waiting for justice for him and for the other high-profile human rights campaigners who have been murdered in the DRC.

Maurice Namwira, current Executive Secretary of Heritiers de la Justice, recorded this interview to thank Christian Aid supporters for their commitment to DRC and to talk about the importance of human rights education in the troubled country.

Héritiers de la Justice

Emma Pomfret, Africa Editor at Christian Aid, has written about human rights violations in the DRC, the courageous work of Héritiers de la Justice, and the challenges that face human rights activitists.  

In a nation that has experienced three decades of brutal dictatorship, followed by almost 15 years of war, Christian Aid's partner organisations in the DRC live and work against a backdrop of poverty and a legacy of endemic corruption.

The recent armed death threat against Emmanuel Lubala Mugisho, president of leading Congolese human rights organisation Héritiers de la Justice, once again brings into sharp focus the enormous risks many take through their courageous work in the DRC.

A bloody history

The violent attack, the latest incident in a long-established trend of targeting human rights activists and journalists, happened just a week after the murder of Congolese civil liberties activist Floribert Chebeya, and less than five years since the murder of Héritier's late secretary general, Pascal Kabungulu.

Pascal Kabungulu was assassinated in his home in front of his family for his knowledge of illicit gold mining in Kamituga, south Kivu, for his help in exposing the use of rape as a weapon of war in eastern Congo, for his persistent defence of human rights and for his documentation of serious human rights abuses in the DRC.

He shares the fate of a long line of human rights defenders and journalists who have been attacked as a result of their efforts to help build the rule of law and accountability in the DRC.

Indeed, Héritiers de la Justice has a long record of documenting human rights abuses. It denounced those committed by former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko when the country was Zaire, and later by former president Laurent Kabila and the current transitional government, headed by Kabila's son, Joseph.

It has also documented serious abuses committed by the armed groups which have terrorised eastern Congo since civil war broke out in 1998.

The call for justice

The film 'Weapons of Impunity' tells the story of Pascal Kabungulu's assassination and the impunity that still surrounds his case, as well as the courageous efforts of Congolese civil society actors to challenge this culture and help establish the rule of law in the DRC.

A military tribunal, initially set up to investigate Kabungulu's death in November 2005, was suspended and, as is often the case in the DRC, those responsible have never been bought to justice.

'The often dangerous work of our Congolese partners makes a unique and essential contribution to the country's fragile state-building process,' says Jacques Miaglia, Christian Aid's country manager in the DRC.

Read Emma's full article and an interview with Maurice Namwira, current Executive Secretary of Héritiers de la Justice.

Read our fact file about Democratic Republic of Congo.


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