Eastern Congo

Enough’s Lezhnev to Testify in Congress on Preventing Violence through Financial Pressure in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Date: 
Nov 28, 2016

 

TomorrowNovember 29, Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, will testify alongside a distinguished panel of senior U.S. officials and Congolese and international activists before the U.S. Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on “Democracy and Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” 

Lezhnev, author of the recent Enough Project report “A Criminal State: Understanding and countering institutionalized corruption and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” will present testimony on strategies to avoid a much more violent crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular through the use of greater U.S. financial pressure to leverage a successful democratic transition process. 

For press unable to attend the hearing will be available for viewing on livestream.

When: Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. EST

Where: Room 2255, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. Click here for details.

Livestreamhttps://humanrightscommission.house.gov/  

Witnesses:

Panel I

  • Tom Perriello, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, U.S. Department of State
  • Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

  • Ida Sawyer, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch 
  • Fred Bauma, LUCHA
  • Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy, Enough Project
  • Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, Professorial Lecturer, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies  

Hearing details: https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/democracy-and-human-rights-democratic-republic-congo

Interview availability: Mr. Lezhnev will be available for selected media interviews following the hearing. For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

Republicans, Democrats Unite to Pass Important Resolution on DRC, Urging Financial Pressure in Support of Congo's Constitution

On November 14, the United States House of Representatives passed H.Res.780 - A resolution urging respect for the constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the democratic transition of power in 2016,by a vote count of 416-3.  Read More »

In Memory of Katherine Fleming Yarges: Activist Extraordinaire and Heart of the Congo Activist Community

Katherine (second from left) at a Run for Congo Women event

For so many who came together as Congo activists, Katherine Fleming Yarges was a light—and a rock. Whether stepping up to Run for Congo Women, as one of A Thousand Sisters, taking on conflict minerals in the 45,000 penny campaign, or shooting protest selfies for Outcry for Congo or Special Envoy Now. Katherine was a steady, glowing presence that represented the very best of the Congo activist community.   Read More »

New Study Shows Congo is Run as Violent Kleptocracy

Date: 
Oct 27, 2016

 

In-depth report shows D.R. Congo is not a “failed state,” as it functions highly efficiently for ruling elites, certain commercial partners who profit immensely; Paradigm shift is needed by policymakers to use financial, legal pressure tools to target leaders most responsible for violence, corruption, and undermining democracy.

In a major report released today, the Enough Project shows that the Democratic Republic of Congo is not a “failed state,” exposing a highly functioning system of violence and corruption structured to allow President Joseph Kabila and his close associates to maintain power and profit from natural resource deals at the expense of country’s development.

The comprehensive study that analyzes Congo’s political economy over the past 130 years, “A Criminal State: Understanding and Countering Institutionalized Corruption and Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” authored by Sasha Lezhnev, the second in the Enough Project series “Violent Kleptocracy: Corruption and Conflict in East and Central Africa,” will be presented at an event today in Washington, DC, and will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. EDT.

Sasha Lezhnev, report author and Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “It is time for a paradigm shift on policy thinking on Congo. Supporting Congolese reformers to transform the country requires a strategy to tackle the violent kleptocratic system head-on. The U.S. and Europe must impose significant consequences for the leaders that maintain it, in particular by using the tools of financial pressure normally reserved for countering nuclear proliferation. Congo’s business deals are made in U.S. dollars, thus touching the international banking system, so the international community has powerful leverage it is not using nearly enough.”

The current crisis in the DRC, the report argues, is the latest iteration of a longer pattern of violence and corruption and urges policymakers and the international community to respond with financial pressure tools that directly target those leaders benefiting from the violent kleptocratic system.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “For too long, Congo's entrenched systems of theft and violence have been left to thrive. That has led to the death of millions of civilians, and now an acute constitutional crisis at the highest level of power. It has also spurred a mass popular movement demanding that Kabila must go, asserting the rights of the people to a democratic transition. There has never been a more important time for policy makers to view Congo as a hijacked -- not a failed -- state, and use the financial and legal tools at their disposal before this crisis reaches a fever pitch.”

Lezhnev added: “U.S. and international policy goals on Congo should be to create accountability for financial and human rights crimes; and to create new leverage for peace, human rights, and governance reforms. This would comprise a new, unique financial pressure approach that would create real leverage in support of processes that can bring change in Congo. The aim would be to freeze those committing atrocities and undermining peace out of the international financial system.”

The Congolese government has increased repression in recent months. In September, a government crackdown on demonstrations to hold elections on time killed over 48 protesters, according to the United Nations. Over the past 18 months, numerous democracy activists have been jailed and radio, international human rights advocates have been kicked out of the country, and radio and TV stations have been shut down.

Report recommendations:

1. Financial pressure: For a policy of financial pressure aimed at reforms, the United States and other actors within the international community should combine the use of anti-money laundering measures with widened, enforced targeted sanctions designations. This would comprise a new and unique financial pressure approach that would create real leverage in support of processes that can bring change in Congo.

  • Implementing anti-money laundering measures
  • Enacting higher-level and robustly enforced targeted sanctions

2. Accountability: The International Criminal Court (ICC), the United States, Central and East African nations, and European states should use judicial tools to target the facilitators of violence, prosecute corruption-related crimes, and bolster atrocity crimes cases with a strategy to target assets stolen by those responsible for serious crimes to impose real accountability.

  • Targeting the facilitators of violence and prosecuting pillage
  • Seizing criminally derived assets
  • Prosecuting corruption-related crimes

3. Good governance and transparency: The overall objective of policymakers should be a reformed, functional state that is responsive to Congolese citizens’ needs. While pursuing financial and legal pressure to create immediate costs for current corrupt and violent behavior, the U.S., European, African, Asian, and multilateral institutions should support long-term democratic and transparency processes, governance reforms, and needed capacities by taking the following steps:

  • Reforming aid, focusing on including strong anti-corruption provisions.
  • Pressing for the publication of financial reports and audits of state-owned companies such as Gécamines and the China contract
  • Strengthening EITI implementation and urge completion of the Mining Code review
  • Supporting civil society with increased legal aid, protection, and capacity building

The report analyzes Congo’s political economy over the past 130 years, revealing seven main pillars of violent kleptocracy that have been used in various forms to rule the country, from the days of King Leopold II to the present.

  1. Let the security forces pay themselves. Mobutu said, “You have guns, you don’t need a salary.”  In order to prevent being overthrown by force, the regime allows army commanders to become wealthy by exploiting resources and citizens, thus fueling cycles of conflict.
     
  2. Stay in power, or possibly lose everything. Leaving office can mean that regime-connected elites lose their ill-gotten gains and immunity from prosecution. Pro-democracy movements are thus repressed, often violently, as they are threats to the corrupt system.
     
  3. Ensure there is little to no accountability for regime-connected elites. Impunity is the glue that holds the system together. Judicial systems target regime opponents or low-level figures, not high-level perpetrators of corruption or human rights abuses.
     
  4. Create parallel state structures and co-opt rebel groups to weaken political threats. Parallel chains of command are set up to ensure loyalty; rebels are brought into the army without vetting or real integration. The bloated army then commits abuses and collaborates with armed groups.
     
  5. Ensure that high-level officials benefit from corruption. If appointed to a military post or government office, the official is expected to pass payments up the chain. This system, “rapportage,” has led the real tax burden for Congolese citizens to be around 55 percent.
     
  6. Personally profit from natural resource deals, underspend on services, and hijack reforms. The regime receives bribes from certain outsiders to sell resources at very low prices, then outsiders flip them for large profits, depriving the Congolese state of massive revenue. Transparency reforms such as the Extractive Indsutries Transparency Initiative (EITI) help a bit, but the main vehicles for corruption—state-owned companies and their foreign shell company partners—remain opaque. The government deliberately underspends on public services, as its focus is on patronage.
     
  7. Confuse everyone by creating uncertainty on policies in order to increase corruption. The government creates institutions that contradict its own laws or policies, and state agencies impose and collect their own taxes, which increases predation.

LINK TO THE FULL REPORT: http://eno.ug/2dFQUDt. (French translation of executive summary also available)

EVENT DATE TIME: Thursday, October 27, 2016 | 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EDT

EVENT LOCATION: 1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20036

EVENT LIVESTREAM: http://eno.ug/2e4UYOz

FOR MEDIA: For media planning to attend the event in person, please email: press@enoughproject.org. For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

New Comprehensive Study - "A Criminal State: Understanding and Countering Institutionalized Corruption and Violence in Congo"

Enough's new comprehensive study reveals how the Democratic Republic of Congo is not a failed state—for everyone. It is a failure for the vast majority of Congolese who suffer from abysmal security, healthcare, and education services. However, it is an efficient state for ruling elites and their commercial partners who seek to extract or traffic resources at the expense of Congo’s development. Over the past 130 years, Congo has had many elements of violent kleptocracy, a system of state capture in which ruling networks and commercial partners hijack governing institutions and maintain impunity for the purpose of resource extraction and for the security of the regime. Violence has been the systemic companion of these regimes.  This study argues that President Kabila and his close associates rely in large part on theft, violence, and impunity to stay in power at the expense of the country’s development. If international policymakers are to have a real impact in helping Congolese reformers actually reform the system, they need to shift the lens through which they view the conflict.  Read More »

Activist Brief: A New Policy Approach to the Democratic Republic of Congo

If international policymakers are to have a real impact in helping Congolese reformers actually transform the system of violent kleptocracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they need to shift lenses. Policies should focus on creating significant consequences for those most responsible for the system of violence, corruption, and undermining of democracy. This can be done by creating new leverage using tools of financial pressure normally reserved for countering nuclear proliferation and terrorism aimed at isolating certain leaders from the international financial system, and increasing support for Congolese civil society organizations and journalists to hold the government accountable.

A Criminal State: Understanding and countering institutionalized corruption and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is not a failed state—for everyone. It is a failure for the vast majority of Congolese who suffer from abysmal security, health care, and education services. However, it is an efficient state for ruling elites and their commercial partners who seek to extract or traffic resources at the expense of Congo’s development. 

A Criminal State

EVENT & LIVESTREAM: “Combating Violent Kleptocracy in the Congo”

Date: 
Oct 19, 2016
 

Enough Project to present major report detailing new approach to create leverage for democratic change and human rights protections  as the Democratic Republic of Congo faces electoral crisis and violence

WHAT: On Thursday, October 27, in Washington DC, the Enough Project and distinguished guests will host “Combating Violent Kleptocracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A New Approach to Create Leverage for Democratic Change and Human Rights Protections.”

The event will launch a new Enough Project comprehensive study authored by Sasha Lezhnev, "A Criminal State: Understanding and Countering Institutionalized Corruption and Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo." The report is the second installment in the Enough Project’s "Violent Kleptocracy: Corruption and Conflict in East and Central Africa" Series.

Panelists will discuss new policy options for addressing the current crisis in Congo, including using tools of financial and judicial pressure that are normally reserved for combating nuclear proliferation and terrorism, as well as new strategies for good governance.

For media unable to attend, the presentation will be simulcast on livestream video. 

Bagels and coffee will be available at the event.

SPEAKERS:

  • Dr. Pierre Englebert, H. Russell Smith Professor of International Relations and Professor of African Politics, Pomona College
  • Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy, Enough Project
  • Nita Evele, Board Member, Panzi Foundation
  • Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst, Enough Project
  • * Speakers may be added

       Introductory remarks by

DATE/TIME: Thursday, October 27, 2016  |   10:00 - 11:30 a.m. EDT

EVENT LOCATION: 1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20036

CONTEXT: Over the past 130 years, Congo has exhibited many elements of violent kleptocracy, a system of state capture in which ruling networks and commercial partners hijack governing institutions and maintain impunity for the purpose of resource extraction and for the security of the regime. Ruling networks utilize varying levels of violence to maintain power and repress dissenting voices. This system plays out today with the current regime’s attempt to subvert a democratic transition, as President Joseph Kabila and his associates profit from grand corruption and are trying by all means necessary to hold on to power. The report, based on field and historic research, reveals seven pillars of violent kleptocracy manifest in the government of Congo, including letting security forces pay themselves and ensuring regime-connected elites are not held accountable for crimes.

FOR MEDIA: For media planning to attend the event in person, please email: press@enoughproject.org. For media inquiries, interview requests, and to obtain the livestream link and advance copies of the report, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT

The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

EU Announces Increased Pressure to Address Crisis in Congo

Date: 
Oct 17, 2016

 

Enough Project welcomes this step, but the EU must follow up with targeted financial pressure and strong enforcement

Today, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council announced support for individual sanctions to address the escalating political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In its statement today, the Council said, "The EU will use all the means at its disposal, including individual restrictive measures against those responsible for serious human rights violations...and those who would try to obstruct a consensual and peaceful solution to the crisis." The statement is binding on all 28 member states and thus calls on authorities throughout Europe to engage in enforcement. 

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The EU has a powerful role to play to mitigate this crisis. Member states have been sitting back, far too quiet about the repression and its implications for Congo's future. The announcement today signals an important shift in Europe toward a more unified position against political repression and forever-presidents in Congo.”

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "We welcome the EU's first step today, but it must be followed up with strong financial pressure if it is to be effective- anti-money laundering measures, asset freezes, and travel bans against kleptocratic leaders. Congolese officials have properties in Europe and travel there frequently, so those measures would have a strong impact.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Now that the EU has moved, the U.S. government should ratchet up its pressure on Congo in order to help facilitate a timely democratic transition in Congo. The U.S. should strongly enforce sanctions and anti-money laundering steps, complemented by support to civil society and protection for civilians facing an increasingly hard-handed state apparatus.”

The EU action follows a recent spike in violent repression by the Congolese government, including brutal crackdowns on September 19 and 20 against peaceful pro-election demonstrations that led to the deaths of at least 44 people and the arrest of dozens of protestors. The Congolese government has announced that presidential elections, originally scheduled for November this year, will be delayed, potentially until December 2018.

Since June this year, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has placed three high-level Congolese officials on its Specially Designated Nationals List:  General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, head of the First National Defense Zone; Major General John Numbi Banza Tambo, former Inspector General of Congo’s National Police; and General Célestin Kanyama, the Police Commissioner of Kinshasa.

Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

U.S. Places Sanctions on High-Level Congo Officials

Date: 
Sep 28, 2016

 

As the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to backslide on democracy and human rights, the United States and European Union should use strong financial pressure to prevent a wider crisis and ensure President Kabila schedules timely elections, ends repression

Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, aka "Tango Fort," head of the First National Defense Zone and Major General John Numbi Banza Tambo, former Inspector General of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Police on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List.

General Amisi is a key member of Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s inner circle. He was promoted to his current position in charge of security for Kinshasa and western Congo despite having been suspended from the army because of a 2012 U.N. Group of Experts report accusing him of supplying arms and ammunition to illegal armed groups known to commit atrocities and poachers. Amisi was never prosecuted by the Congolese military justice system for these alleged crimes. The U.N. Group of Experts and the BBC have also reported on Amisi's alleged profiting from the conflict minerals trade. 

Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “This is what an innovative approach to atrocities prevention looks like in action. These designations will put pressure on the regime where it really hurts -- their finances. They also send a message that the US does not tolerate strongmen who hold on to power through violence.  Thousands of Congolese people are standing up for democracy and nonviolence at great risk to their personal security. Many have said the first round of sanctions by the US in June made a positive difference. Now it's time for these designations to be supported by robust enforcement, European sanctions, and UN peacekeepers in Congo's most vulnerable cities.”

National elections are scheduled to take place in Congo on November 19, according to the country's constitution, and President Joseph Kabila is due to step down on December 19. However, the government-led electoral commission recently announced that the elections will be delayed, potentially until 2018.

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The Congolese government is not yet showing real willingness to hold a democratic transition, so we welcome these sanctions as a needed step to help push the process in a constructive direction. Generals Amisi and Numbi have never been prosecuted in Congo despite a wealth of evidence about their involvement in human rights violations and in Amisi's case, involvement in the deadly conflict minerals trade and corruption. The U.S. Treasury Department should go further in tightening the financial screws, such as by issuing a request to financial institutions under Section 314(a) of the Patriot Act in order to gather information on Congolese officials who may be laundering the proceeds of corruption.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Without real leverage to move the process, the national dialogue in Congo will go nowhere. The U.S. and E.U. should use the powerful financial tools which counter terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and organized crime, and deploy them to fight kleptocracy, war crimes, and autocracy in Congo.”

In 2008, under Major General Numbi, the Congolese national police was accused by human rights groups of using excessive force against Bundu Dia Kongo, an unarmed movement fighting for greater political independence in Bas Kongo province. In 2010, while Numbi was head of the UN investigation into the death of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya noted that the "strongly suggested official responsibility." Despite allegations, Numbi was never indicted for the murder of Chebeya.

The designations come at a time when the Congolese government has increased repression. Over the past 18 months, several notable democracy activists have been jailed and radio and TV stations shut down. Last week’s demonstrations to hold elections on time led to government crackdowns, the deaths of at least 44 people, and the arrest of dozens of protestors

President Kabila’s government has attempted to hold a National Dialogue to secure a political transition, but it was boycotted by a majority of the opposition who say the Dialogue is a ploy to extend Kabila's term. 

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

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