U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Democratic Republic of the Congo
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8801c.html [accessed 28 May 2015]|
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Tier 2)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. The vast majority of trafficking occurs within the country's unstable eastern provinces, where transitional government control is nominal and members of armed groups continue to perpetrate violent acts with impunity. Indigenous and foreign armed rebels continue to abduct and forcibly recruit Congolese men, women, and children to serve as laborers, porters, domestics, combatants, and sex slaves, albeit at a much reduced rate from previous years. Many people abducted in past years, including a limited number of Ugandan nationals being detained by Ugandan militia operating in Congolese territory, are still being held by these armed groups. There were reports of Congolese children in prostitution in brothels in the country. There were also numerous reports indicating that some local authorities attempted to recruit child soldiers for armed groups. During the year, there was one known case of Congolese children trafficked to Zambia.
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Given the transitional government's financial, military, and political inability to deal with armed rebel groups, its capacity to effectively address trafficking is limited. To further its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should continue demobilizing child soldiers, demonstrate progress toward the passage of anti-trafficking legislation, and arrest and prosecute traffickers. It should also continue military action against armed groups that recruit children for military service or abduct civilians for forced labor or sexual slavery.
Although the country's criminal justice system – police, courts, and prisons – was decimated by years of war and remains extremely weak, military tribunals sentenced commanders of armed groups to prison for illegally detaining children during the reporting period. There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons, but existing laws prohibit slavery, forced labor, the prostitution of children under the age of 14, and the activities of brothel owners, clients, and pimps. The Ministry of Justice, with French Government assistance, worked to revise the penal code to include specific laws against trafficking in persons; completed draft legislation is expected in September. The government lacks the funds to print and distribute copies of the current penal code to the country's 2,500 magistrates. In May 2005, the head of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) instructed all brigade commanders not to recruit children and explained the severe punishments that would be meted out against anyone responsible for such conscription. FARDC's Auditor General also instructed all military courts to legally pursue anyone who continued to recruit children for military participation. As a result, in early 2006, Kanyanga Biyoyo, Commandant of rebel army Mundundu-40, was sentenced to five years in prison for war crimes, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers. In March 2006, the government arrested and turned over Thomas Lubanga, leader of the UPC rebel movement, to the International Criminal Court for recruiting and using children under the age of 15 in armed conflict. Local law enforcement authorities were rarely able to enforce existing laws due to lack of personnel, funding, and the inaccessibility of eastern areas of the country. However, local police in the east used laws barring underage persons from drinking establishments to close down suspected or known brothels; no one was arrested during these operations. In 2005, the Congolese embassy in Lusaka fully cooperated with the Zambian Government to repatriate Congolese child trafficking victims. At the national level, FARDC, with United Nations Mission to the Congo (MONUC) support, conducted dozens of operations in the eastern provinces to neutralize foreign armed groups, the primary perpetrators of human trafficking in the country.
Through its national demobilization commission, CONADER, the Ministry of Defense worked closely during the year with NGOs and international organizations to demobilize and reintegrate into society children associated with armed groups. When such groups disarm and are integrated into FARDC, CONADER identifies and separates out children and transports them to camps for temporary housing and vocational training. In 2005, 14,315 children were removed from armed groups. Of the 16,809 children demobilized since 2004, 8,663 were reunified with their families, 7,044 returned to academic schooling, and 4,609 received vocational training. As the government lacked funding to fully respond to the large numbers of demobilized children, NGOs provided legal, medical, and psychological services. The government lacks the resources not only to aid other categories of trafficking victims, but also to provide security and basic services to its citizens.
The government's efforts to prevent trafficking increased during the reporting period. In 2005, CONADER and MONUC sensitized newly integrated FARDC troops – both commanders and rank and file soldiers – on the illegality of using child soldiers. There was no formal coordination or communication between various agencies on trafficking in persons; however, the expansion of FARDC and MONUC presence and operations in the eastern provinces reduced militia activity, effectively preventing additional forcible recruitment of child soldiers by foreign armed groups.