In this article series, human rights champion Golden Misabiko writes about the situation in the Katanga province, the DR Congo, and Africa in general.
SUMMARY OF HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN KATANGA
The Katanga province is one of the eleven provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
It is situated in the southern part of the country and comprises, including the city of Lubumbashi, the districts of Haut Katanga ( Upper Katanga ), Haut Lomami ( Upper Lomami ), Tanganika and Lualaba.
The main activities in this province are: mining ( in the southern part ), fishing ( in the eastern and northern parts ) and agriculture ( in North Katanga ).
The province has about 10.000.000 inhabitants.
The human rights situation is very marked and influenced by political power at both national and provincial levels.
1. On security aspect :
The security situation in Katanga remains worrying and fragile; especially in the northern part of the province where armed conflicts between the national army of DRC and may-may militia and other several groups cause massive populations’ displacements during the rainy season, burn villages and fields; rape women and young girls, etc. These displacements have serious consequences on humanitarian and human rights.
Other parts of the province are affected by insecurity caused by groups of bandits in urban milieus such as Lubumbashi, Likasi, Kolwezi, Kamina and Kalemie where small guns are in hands of these groups. Many people called “creuseurs” or miners, who do not have job enter illegally mining sites that belong to private companies whose security forces use prohibited methods.
2. Protection of women and children
Due to the promulgation of laws on sexual violence and protection of children, more attention on women and children are being observed.
The provincial gender, family and child service has recorded 1958 cases of victims of sexual abuses in 2012 among whom 322 were assisted socially and psychologically; 407 had medical assistance and 462 had legal assistance making thus, a total of 1167 victims who benefited from the 3 provincial synergy commissions that fight against sexual violence.
Regarding the presence of the children on the mining sites, UNICEF recorded about 20.000 children on the mining areas.
3. Corporate and human rights
In Katanga, many companies do not have policy or expertise for promoting and protecting of human rights. They do not act or comply with the UN voluntary principles on human rights. Neither do they comply with the UN principles of security and human rights applicable for multinationals. The salary of the workers is very low and social allowance insufficient. Workers are dismissed according to mood of the employer. A clear difference can be observed among the western companies, Asian and African who do not comply with the OECD principles and other international obligations instruments.
4. Justice delivery
There is an inequitable justice system. Rich people are served better than the poor.
The justice system reform should be finalized to allow people to benefit from the judicial service in a rapid way and in less expensive way in order to avoid piling up many files. This reform would establish more trust between people and the judiciary.
It would be better to promote the traditional ways of settling matters to help empty and reduce number of files in the tribunals and courts. It would also be recommended to implement these legal jurisdictions where they do not exist.
5. Prison situation
The provincial government helps regularly the functioning of the prisons in the province; mainly with food and other essential and vital needs. However, it is necessary to say that all the prisons of the province are very crowded. And in many cases, these prisons lack administrative documents that give information of the prisoners. The jail infrastructures are weak and poor; and this is the cause of frequent evasions from the detention places.
6. Freedom of expression and movement
Many pressure groups like journalists, human rights defenders and opposition political parties are not allowed to express their opinions on the national official media. Just to mention one case, three journalists of private TV were kidnapped and sequestrated at ANR ( security service ) for having filmed a property conflict between a security service agent and a civilian. In many rural areas, human rights defenders are arrested for having given their opinions on human rights violation. Whereas the journalist and his/her function is well known, the human rights defender is wrongly considered as a political opponent.
7. Protection of environment
In spite of several regulations on the protection of environment, companies and other economic units are polluting the environment. And on this matter, Civil Society Organizations go to court against the companies that pollute the Kafubu stream and its environments. There is hope that the court will be fair so that the victims of the pollution will get reparations. Other cases of pollutions are observed by the populations and local authorities but they are not capable to oppose the economic power of the companies that are commiting the environmental crimes.
8. People living with HIV
The geographic situation of the province makes Katanga to be one of the provinces that are the most affected with a very high rate. The National Program Against HIV/AIDS works in collaboration with human rights organizations to monitor human rights abuses related to the vulnerable people living with HIV/AIDS.
Golden Misabiko March 2, 2014
Human Rights Defender/Congo/DRC