Lawyers lobby faults Congolese Army for atrocities

Congo residents protest killings by armed rebels.

A Lawyer's lobby has blamed the Congolese army for its failure to intervene and guarantee the peace of her residents.

The lobby, Collectif of Lawyers, was speaking from Nairobi during a three day seminar that seeks to give victims of the conflict a chance to speak about their experience.

The Collectif of Lawyers is composed of lawyers registered at the Bunia, Goma, Bukavu and Kinshasa bar associations and lawyers from Brussels and the New York Bar.

The lobby is defending civilian victims of three communities of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, namely the Hema of Ituri Province, the Banyamulenge of South Kivu Province, and the Tutsi of North Kivu Province.

“We don’t ask for declarations we want action, they have to guarantee peace and security for each civil person and our victims have rights to peace and security,” said Benard Maingain one of the Collectif lawyers.

The seminar was engulfed by a sombre mood as the victims recounted horrific ordeals that they went through at the hands of the rebels.

It was held in Nairobi due to its proximity to the victims and also due to the fact that Kenya has been playing a leading role in peace discussions in DRC.

Victims will give their testimonies which will then be recorded and handed over to the International Criminal Court for prosecution of the perpetrators.

The seminar aims to let the victims let the world know about the atrocities that have happened in Congo since the war began and its impact on the residents.

According to Jean Paul Shyaka, an attorney of the New York Bar, members of the armed groups attending dialogue meetings in Nairobi are perpetrators of the ongoing war in Congo.

Shyaka further stated that peace conferences in Congo should not be centered on armed groups it should instead be centered on victims and their voices should be heard and restored.

“It is questionable to bring people who have blood in their hands keep them in hotels here (Nairobi) pay them while they are causing havoc back at home,” he said.

This he said has necessitated the need to have the victims give their side of the story in Nairobi where talks have been held. 

The lawyers also urged the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres to investigate the attitude of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) when the atrocities were committed.

This they said is as a result of recent allegations of complacency from MONUSCO with local authorities accusing them of failing to make any significant impact on the ongoing war in the country despite it being part of a UN peacekeeping mission.

The quest for justice for the victims of the war by the lawyers started three years ago when a group from Banyamulenge reached out for legal representation.

The Collectif notes that the voices of the victims of these atrocities are often neglected or even inaudible. That is why they are committed to working on appropriate legal approaches and mechanisms to ensure justice is served.

The victims are now hoping that they are going to find justice and will be restored.