Title Republic of Congo: An old generation of leaders in new carnage
Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 25 March 1999
Country Republic of the Congo
Topics Arbitrary arrest and detention | Armed groups / Militias / Paramilitary forces / Resistance movements | Disappeared persons | Extrajudicial executions | Freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment | Freedom of expression | Freedom of information | Impunity | Political situation | Protection of civilian persons in time of war | SGBV | Security forces
Citation / Document Symbol AFR 22/001/1999
Cite as Amnesty International, Republic of Congo: An old generation of leaders in new carnage, 25 March 1999, AFR 22/001/1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9c618.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
Comments Amnesty International is concerned about grave human rights abuses perpetrated by government forces and armed opposition groups in the Republic of Congo. Over the last seven years, thousands of unarmed civilians have been extrajudicially executed by the security forces or deliberately and arbitrarily killed by armed groups loyal or opposed to the government. Hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed from late 1998 to early 1999 alone. Other abuses include 'disappearances' and abductions, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions. On the basis of the information collected during and after the visit in the second half of 1998 by Amnesty International's delegates, the organization has concluded that most of the victims of the abuses were unarmed civilians targeted on the basis of their political or ethnic affiliation. The abuses are a clear violation of international humanitarian law, in particular Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions which specifically prohibits attacks against people taking no active part in the hostilities, torture, including rape, as well as the taking of hostages, and Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions which relates to the protection of the victims of non-international armed conflicts. In addition, there is widespread violation of international human rights law by the government and its security forces. Leaders of the forces responsible for the abuses are often the same that had been involved in political and human rights crises since Congo's independence in 1960. Amnesty International believes that these leaders have continued to order, encourage and condone human rights abuses because they and their opponents have continued to enjoy impunity as virtually no measures were taken in the past to bring perpetrators of the abuses to justice. Amnesty International is publishing this report to bring to the attention of the international community a deteriorating human rights crisis that it appears to have largely ignored. In this report, the organization is urging governments and intergovernmental organizations to wake up to the gravity of the crisis and to take immediate measures to bring it to an end and prevent its recurrence. Those responsible for the abuses and their leaders should realise that time has come for an end to impunity and that their crimes will not be tolerated by either the international community or the people of Congo. Foreign governments that are involved in the armed conflict should ensure that their troops are not involved in human rights abuses, and that they use their influence to prevent abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in Congo. Members of the security forces, particularly those of the Police nationale, National Police, have been responsible for numerous extrajudicial executions since President Denis Sassou Nguesso came to power in October 1997. During their stay in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire in 1998, Amnesty International delegates uncovered what amounted to a shoot-to-kill policy by the police against alleged armed robbers. Many suspects are reported to have been beaten at the time of their arrest and while in custody. One of the worst cases reported to Amnesty International was of Adrien Wayi, a journalist, who was tortured by Bernard Kolelas' Ninja militia. Amnesty International has received information about numerous human rights abuses perpetrated by Angolan soldiers in the Republic of Congo since October 1997. The abuses include extrajudicial execution of Congolese civilians and members of the militia, including their Cobra allies. Those principally responsible for the abuses are political and military leaders who ordered, condoned or created situations, which they knew were likely to result in human rights abuses against unarmed civilians. Successive governments and their forces have ignored and violated their obligations under international human rights treaties, both during and outside armed conflict in the country. Human rights abuses in the context of political violence in the Republic of Congo are likely to continue unless the government and its opponents commit themselves to respecting the rule of law, enforced by an independent, impartial and competent judiciary. For as long as the Congolese authorities continue to flout Congolese national law and international human rights obligations, violence and violations of international humanitarian law are likely to continue.
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