World Bulletin / News Desk
A United Nations report on Friday accused Congolese security forces of using excessive force during last month's demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila's extending his stay in power.
Between September 19 and 21, at least 53 people, including seven women, two children and four police agents were killed in the capital, Kinshasa, according to the report of the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO).
"At least 48 of those individuals were killed by State agents, including at least 18 by National Police (PNC) agents, 10 by the President's Republican Guard (GR) soldiers and eight by the Armed Forces (FARDC) soldiers.
"For the other 12 victims, all shot dead, the UNJHRO could not determine accurately which specific State agents were responsible because they were killed during operations involving different forces that acted jointly", the report said.
"In most cases, the deaths were caused by an excessive use of force against the protesters not in a way that can be assessed as 'strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,'" it added.
The protests also left 143 people, including 13 women and 11 children injured, of which 75 were injured by State actors and 68 by unidentified perpetrators, according to the report.
More than 299 people were unlawfully arrested and detained, the report said, documenting cases of "more than 422 victims of human rights violations attributable to the state."
"Violations of the rights to life, to physical integrity and to the liberty and security of the person were committed with an aim to further restrict the freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly, raising concerns about significant restrictions of the democratic space," it said.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Maman Sidikou said that some 447 members of the Armed Forces and 155 police officers were convicted of human rights violations between January 2014 and March 2016, adding widespread impunity continued.
"Strong political will is needed to ensure justice and reparation to all victims of serious violations. This is particularly crucial in this volatile pre-electoral context,” Sidikou said in a statement from the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO.
"Effective justice is a major deterrent for future violations of human rights and it is the cornerstone for peace and stability," he added.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also condemned the violations according to the statement.
"Impunity for serious human rights violations – including the shooting, hacking and mass arrests of protestors – has been a chronic problem in the DRC for decades now. This is clearly outrageous and serves to fuel an already explosive situation in the country. While the rate of prosecutions appears to be rising, new violations continue to be perpetrated with alarming frequency,” he said.
DRC has seen several anti-Kabila demonstrations over the recent months, as the opposition parties and civil society groups call on the president to step down from power at the end of his two-term mandate in December 2016.
The ruling coalition and some smaller parties agreed on Saturday to delay elections that had been due next month until April 2018. Opposition parties say the postponement of the election is a manoeuvre by Kabila to stay in power.