As documented in a new report from the Enough Project, which ranks electronics firms on their progress in cleaning up their supply chains of conflict minerals, there are glimmers of hope for eastern Congo despite ongoing violence there, which is driven partly by conflict minerals. When we visited Congo late last year, we met activist Amani Matabaro when we first arrived in Bukavu, South Kivu province. His story, his work, and his passion were featured as part of Raise Hope for Congo's video series "I Am Congo." Read More »
The widespread nature of violence in eastern Congo today is often described as being the result of a security vacuum: The attention of the Congolese army and the U.N. peacekeepers is focused on M23, leaving other parts of the volatile region vulnerable to local armed groups. This is surely part of the story. But there is also reason to believe that these local militias are receiving backing from outside actors. Read More »
On August 22, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, adopted regulations for Section 1502, the provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that deals with conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC. The trade in these minerals fuels a conflict that continues to cause suffering among the people of eastern Congo.
“Just last week I received a young boy who escaped [from the Lord’s Resistance Army] in Congo. He told me that he feared what would happen... now that there was no amnesty and no one to reintroduce him into the community. The only thing I could do was to give him my business card and tell him to call me in case of any problems," recounted civil servant with Uganda’s Amnesty Commission. The findings of the Enough Project's research on the impact of the Ugandan government’s decision to dismantle its Amnesty Law are published today in a new report, “The End of Amnesty in Uganda: Implications for LRA Defections.” Read More »
GULU, Northern Uganda -- The government of Uganda’s decision to remove a key provision in the country’s Amnesty Act threatens to impede efforts to end the notorious rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. To address this concern and ensure peace in the region, the government of Uganda must clarify that former rebels will not be prosecuted, and grant amnesty to future defectors in exchange for participation in truth-seeking and reconciliation processes, according to a new Enough Project report.
The report—based on interviews with more than 60 people across northern Uganda as well as consultations with civil society groups in Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan—proposes a three-part plan to achieve greater defections from the LRA while ensuring that justice and truth-seeking needs are met. The report is also accompanied by a new Enough Project video.
“While there is overwhelming support for amnesty among local communities in Northern Uganda, there is also a recognized need for reconciliation and transitional justice,” said Kasper Agger, the report’s author and Enough Project LRA field researcher. “The reality is that the vast majority of LRA fighters were forcefully abducted, so often there is no clear distinction between victim and perpetrator. To ensure long-term peace and stability, Kampala must formalize truth-seeking and traditional reconciliation practices for former combatants to receive amnesty in exchange for their participation.”
Since its enactment in 2000, the Ugandan Amnesty Act has served as a critical tool in encouraging defections from rebel groups. As of May 2012, a total of 26,288 rebels had received amnesty under the act—12,971 of which were former LRA combatants. With the recent lapse of the amnesty provision, former rebels now fear that they will face prosecution, and many believe that the provision’s removal will discourage defections and escapes from the LRA.
“The government of Uganda should listen to the concerns of its citizens and ensure that no former LRA combatants, aside from those wanted by the ICC, are prosecuted,” said Enough Executive Director John Bradshaw. “And as the government of Uganda develops its transitional justice policy, it is critical that the government adheres to a holistic approach that includes mechanisms to deal with crimes committed by all parties.”
The report found that local communities prioritize reparation and reconciliation over retributive justice, but there is a general sense that those most responsible for crimes must be held accountable, including members of the Ugandan army and government.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.
In the fall of 2008, I met for the first time with my local member of Congress, Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama. As a sophomore at Samford University, I was nervous and far from an expert on the topic of discussion: transparency of companies in the extractive industries. Little did I know, after four years of advocacy efforts with activists across the country that I would be sitting in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, last Wednesday to hear the commissioners release and implement two monumental rules from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. Read More »
The rule, which requires companies to publicly disclose their use of conflict minerals that originated in eastern Congo or neighboring countries, should have an overall positive effect on promoting peace and stability in Congo—but a slow one. Read More »