Eastern Congo

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.

Andy Mulumba to Sec. Kerry: Cause for Concern Due to the Upcoming Crisis Related to the Election in the DRC

It is an honorable privilege to write this letter and an undeniable, exciting feeling to say the least. First off, please allow me to properly introduce myself. My name is Andy Mulumba. Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I spent some time in Montreal, Quebec at the age of 12, and received my collegiate education at the University of Eastern Michigan, graduating in Business Management in April 2013. This is such a great highlight in my life and I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read this letter.  Read More »

US Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling for Strong U.S. Stance on Congo Elections, Targeted Sanctions

On September 13, the United States Senate unanimously passed S.Res.485 - A resolution urging the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to comply with constitutional limits on presidential terms and fulfil its constitutional mandate for a democratic transition of power in 2016. This resolution comes at an increasingly tense and critical time in Congo. According to the Congolese constitution, September 19th is the deadline for the elections commission to announce that presidential elections will be held in time for President Kabila’s departure from office on December 19.  Read More »

Targeted Sanctions and Beyond: Financial and Judicial Tools for the U.S. and Europe to Help Enable Timely Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Political tensions are building in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where sitting President Joseph Kabila is attempting to subvert the country’s constitution, hold on to power, and reduce political space ahead of the scheduled end of his second presidential term. During the past 18 months, the situation has worsened, with multiple attempts to significantly delay elections; peaceful protesters arbitrarily arrested, beaten, or killed;  and the expulsion of several key international researchers or officials, including those from the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, Human Rights Watch, Global Witness, and the Congo Research Group. 

Enough Project Statement on the Democratic Republic of Congo National Dialogue, U.S. and E.U. Policy

Date: 
Aug 31, 2016

 

Tomorrow marks the start of the National Dialogue, as called for by the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Joseph Kabila. The dialogue is intended to cover 11 topics, mainly focused on political and electoral issues. According to the Constitution of the DRC, national elections are to be held on November 19, 2016, and President Kabila is to step down on December 19.  However, the vast majority of the opposition is not participating in the dialogue. Furthermore, the Secretary General of one of the only opposition parties that is participating in the dialogue, Jean-Bertrand Ewanga of the Union Pour la Nation Congolaise (UNC), resigned today citing that the dialogue was a ploy to extend President Kabila's term. On August 20, the Congolese Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said that elections would not be held on time.  

The Enough Project issued the following statements regarding the start of the Dialogue:

Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project Associate Director of Policy, said: “As it is currently organized without civil society or most of the opposition, the dialogue cannot deliver on ensuring a democratic transition in Congo. The U.S. and European Union should enact targeted sanctions and other financial pressure on President Kabila's inner circle until he announces he will step down and hold timely, free, and fair elections.”

Annie Callaway, Enough Project Advocacy and Activist Manager, said: “The dialogue can only be successful if it meaningfully includes Congolese civil society and opposition groups and focuses on ensuring that free and fair elections are held as soon as possible. The United States and European Union must not allow a poorly constituted dialogue to overshadow grave concerns about the Kabila regime's broader strategy of undermining democracy and human rights. The Congolese people have fought hard for their Constitution, and it is critical that it is upheld and supported.”

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

 

Members of Congress Urge Treasury Dept to Pressure Congo President Kabila toward Timely, Peaceful Elections

Last Friday, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urging him to expand targeted sanctions and impose additional financial pressure, including anti-money laundering initiatives, against key officials in Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s regime responsible for undermining peace and democracy.  Read More »

NGOs to Secretary Kerry: More Pressure Needed on Kabila on Congo Elections

A coalition of U.S.-based NGOs and Congo experts sent a letter today to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling for greater financial and other pressure on the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as incentives. The coalition is deeply concerned about the closing of political space and growing democratic crisis in Congo. The policy aims of these tools should be to help support Congo to hold timely elections in line with its constitution and end political repression.   Read More »

U.S. House Votes to Undermine Transparency and Conflict-Free Supply Chains in Democratic Republic of Congo

Date: 
Jul 7, 2016

Rep. Huizenga's Appropriations Amendment Seeks to Defund Critical SEC Conflict Minerals Enforcement

Efforts to support peace, corporate accountability, and transparency in the Democratic Republic of Congo faced a setback today, as the House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) to defund implementation of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC)’s rule to address conflict minerals. 

The 11th-hour amendment, added to a larger financial services appropriations bill, states that no government funds can be used to enforce the SEC’s conflict mineral rule pursuant to Provision 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Defunding this provision would undermine years of progress that has been made by companies, private sector initiatives, and regional governments to support conflict-free minerals sourcing from Congo.

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The conflict minerals provision in Dodd-Frank has spurred major progress in starting rule of law in Congo's minerals sector and helping make the majority of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines conflict-free. Before the law was passed, armed groups and their sponsors profited hand-over-fist from the minerals trade, but today 70% of surveyed 3T mines are conflict-free. It's time to focus on addressing the gaps -- particularly conflict gold and artisanal miners' livelihood programs -- instead of moving backwards and undermining the law, as proposed by Rep. Huizenga’s amendment.”

Many Congolese communities and leaders support Dodd-Frank 1502 because they have seen direct positive impacts, because they believe in transparency and the rule of law, or both. Additionally, major corporations such as Intel, KEMET, and Apple have embraced these regulations and used them as a catalyst to reform their own supply chains and deliberately source conflict-free minerals. Rep. Huizenga’s proposed amendment would unravel years of work that has led to significant positive developments continuing to build both in Congo and within corporate supply chains.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The defunding of section 1502 in today's bill is an attempt to halt momentum toward corporate transparency and responsible sourcing. It ignores real progress in eastern Congo, where people once beset by brutal violence have said their lives are safer since 1502 and related reforms have come to be. This fight is not over - the Senate should send a clear message that corporate executives cannot turn a blind eye to where their minerals come from by voting no on this amendment.”

Dodd-Frank 1502 along with related reforms has led to significant improvements in the transparency of corporate supply chains and to a major reduction in the number of 3T conflict mines in eastern Congo. 69 percent of the world’s smelters for the four minerals, the choke points in minerals supply chains, have now passed conflict-free audits (223 smelters in total). In 2015, 948 tons of conflict-free tantalum was exported from eastern Congo -- a 19 percent increase over the 2014 record, and a 387 percent increase over 2013.

Brad Brooks-Rubin, Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Section 1502 has prompted many companies to take concrete and positive steps to improve their supply chain sourcing practices.  In particular, companies in many sectors now implement stronger due diligence practices to ensure their supply chains are conflict-free, and they can demonstrate this to their customers and an increasingly socially conscious consuming public.  Having survived a vigorous court challenge, Section 1502 must remain fully funded and enforced so that these gains can be leveraged and expanded.”    

For more information about the impact of Dodd-Frank 1502:  http://eno.ug/1iCJiVj

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. Begins Targeted Sanctions on Kabila Regime, Should Continue Until Timely Elections Scheduled

Date: 
Jun 23, 2016

Kinshasa Police Commissioner Célestin Kanyama, responsible for repression, sanctioned; U.S. and E.U. should follow with additional financial pressure if elections not scheduled, repression not halted

Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed General Célestin Kanyama, the Police Commissioner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa, on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. General Kanyama has been linked to at least three police operations that used excessive force, including “Operation Likofi” in which police summarily killed at least 51 youth and forcibly disappeared 33 others during an anti-crime campaign from November 2013 to January 2014, as well as deadly attacks on peaceful protestors in October 2015.

Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The chief of police is often a key tool in the machinery of a government determined to silence its people. Kanyama is accused of orchestrating a sinister set of crackdowns against Congolese civilians over the past two years, ratcheting up fear ahead of Kabila's possible third term. Activists and insiders are speaking up anyway, demanding a peaceful transition of power. Today's sanctions action is exactly the kind of enforcement step needed to complement the work of those communities on the frontlines, and send a message to Kabila's regime that abusive behavior will have consequences.”

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Today's sanctions announcement is the first spark to light a fire under the Kabila government to hold elections in a timely manner and halt repression. If Kabila fails to organize timely elections, more and more members of his inner circle should be designated for asset freezes and visa bans, and the European Union should follow suit.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “In order for this welcome step of sanctioning Kanyama to be meaningful and have the desired impact, we must see vigorous and immediate implementation through identification and blocking of his assets. Kanyama and those around him must feel it. Sanctions, however, are only one tool that the United States and others in the international community should bring to bear to stop the regime's quest to stay in power. The use of anti-money laundering provisions, anti-corruption investigations, and steps to condition donor assistance must also be deployed in the service of democracy and peace in Congo.”

DRC President Joseph Kabila has been criticized for undermining the country’s constitution, including the attempted removal of presidential term limits, delays in scheduled elections, and violent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations.

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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