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Procedure : 2016/2770(RSP)
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PV 22/06/2016 - 16
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Thursday, 23 June 2016 - Brussels
Massacres in eastern Congo

European Parliament resolution of 23 June 2016 on the massacres in eastern Congo (2016/2770(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in particular those of 10 March 2016(1) and of 9 July 2015(2),

–  having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 15 June 2016 on the pre-electoral and security situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and by her spokesperson, on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

–  having regard to the statements by the EU Delegation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the situation of human rights in the country,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 23 May 2016,

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2014, adopted by the Council on 22 June 2015,

–  having regard to the open letter sent by civil society groups in the territories of Beni, Butembo and Lubero to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 14 May 2016,

–  having regard to the Nairobi Declarations of December 2013,

–  having regard to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region, signed in Addis Ababa in February 2013,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on the DRC, in particular resolutions 2198 (2015) on renewing the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts, and 2277 (2016), which renewed the mandate of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) for a year,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Group of Experts on the DRC of 23 May 2016,

–  having regard to the annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights and the activities of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC, of 27 July 2015,

–  having regard to the decisions and orders given by the International Court of Justice,

–  having regard to the joint press statement issued on 2 September 2015 by the Team of International Envoys and Representatives for the Great Lakes Region of Africa on elections in the DRC,

–  having regard to the statement of 9 November 2015 by the President of the UN Security Council on the situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s reports of 9 March 2016 on the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC and on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,

–  having regard to the Congolese Constitution of 18 February 2006,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to deteriorate in the north-eastern part of the country, where dozens of armed groups remain active, with numerous reports of massacres, of recruitment and use of children by armed groups, and of widespread sexual and gender‑based violence;

B.  whereas between October 2014 and May 2016 in the territories of Beni, Lubero and Butembo more than 1 160 people were savagely killed, more than 1 470 people disappeared, many houses, health centres and schools were burnt down and many women, men and children were victims of sexual violence;

C.  whereas many villages in these territories are now occupied by armed groups;

D.  whereas growing discontent is being voiced at the Government of DRC’s inaction and silence in the face of these atrocities, which are alleged to be perpetrated by both rebel armed groups and state military forces;

E.  whereas exceptionally violent killings were carried out, on some occasions in close proximity to positions held by the national army (FARDC) and bases of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO);

F.  whereas these massacres have been met with indifference from the international community and with media silence;

G.  whereas the President of the DRC is constitutionally entrusted to be the guarantor of national integrity, national independence, the safety of people and goods, and the regular functioning of the country’s institutions, and is the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces;

H.  whereas political tensions are high in the DRC owing to the fact that President Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, is required by the constitution to step down on 20 December 2016 and has not yet declared that he will do so;

I.  whereas the Congolese army and MONUSCO are present in the region to maintain stability, fight armed groups and protect civilians;

J.  whereas the mandate of MONUSCO has been renewed and reinforced;

K.  whereas the widespread failure to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations has resulted in the climate of impunity being encouraged and new crimes being committed;

L.  whereas a major challenge to peace has been the DRC’s faltering efforts to demobilise thousands of rebel fighters, whether by incorporating them into the national army or smoothing their transition into civilian life;

M.  whereas humanitarian actors estimate that 7,5 million people are currently in need of assistance; whereas the ongoing conflict and military operations have also caused the internal displacement of 1,5 million people, and have forced more than 400 000 people to flee the country;

N.  whereas the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported increasing kidnappings and attacks on aid workers and convoys, which have forced humanitarian organisations to delay the delivery of aid and suspend their activities;

O.  whereas the massacres in eastern Congo are the result of links between regional and national politics, instrumentalisation of ethnic tensions and exploitation of resources;

1.  Expresses its deep concern regarding the escalation of violence and the alarming and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the DRC, caused in particular by the armed conflicts in the eastern provinces, which have now been going on for more than 20 years; deplores the loss of life and expresses its sympathy with the people of the DRC;

2.  Reiterates its call for all parties to the conflict to put an immediate end to the violence, lay down their arms, release all children from their ranks and promote dialogue towards a peaceful and sustainable resolution of the conflict; calls notably for quick and active resumption of collaboration between MONUSCO and the RDC armed forces (FARDC), on the basis of the military cooperation agreement signed on 28 January 2016 in Kinshasa, in order to re-establish and consolidate peace and security in both the eastern area and the country as a whole;

3.  Recalls that the neutralisation of all armed groups in the region will strongly contribute to peace and stability, and calls for the Government of the DRC to make this a priority and to restore safety for all its citizens and stability in the territories of Beni, Lubero and Butembo;

4.  Calls as a matter of urgency for a thorough, independent and transparent investigation to be launched by the international community into the massacres, with the full collaboration of the DRC Government and MONUSCO; asks for an emergency meeting of the Team of International Envoys and Representatives for the Great Lakes region of Africa on elections in the DRC with a view to taking appropriate action in this direction, such as mobilising the UN Security Council;

5.  Insists that this situation should not prevent elections from taking place as constitutionally planned; stresses that the successful and timely holding of the elections will be crucial to the long-term stability and development of the country;

6.  Calls on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to collect information and examine the abuses with a view to determining whether an ICC investigation into alleged crimes in the Beni area is warranted;

7.  Reiterates that there can be no impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual violence against women and girls, or for those responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers; stresses that the people responsible for any such acts must be reported, identified, prosecuted and punished in accordance with national and international criminal law;

8.  Asks for an evaluation report of the actions of MONUSCO to be produced and made publicly available; welcomes UN Security Council resolution 2277 (2016), which renewed MONUSCO’s mandate and reinforced its competences in the field of civilian protection and human rights, including gender-based violence and violence against children;

9.  Urges MONUSCO to make full use of this mandate to protect the civilian population, through its ‘force transformation’, to ensure that it will be able to exercise greater operational capability to protect civilians through rapid deployment mechanisms and aerial reconnaissance in eastern Congo, including via patrols and mobile operating bases;

10.  Calls for the AU and the EU to ensure a permanent political dialogue between the countries of the Great Lakes region in order to prevent any further destabilisation; regrets that only limited progress has been made in the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement of February 2013, and calls on all parties to actively contribute to stabilisation efforts;

11.  Insists that civil society must be involved in any action to protect civilians and resolve the conflicts, and that human rights defenders must be protected and offered a platform by the Government of the DRC and the international community;

12.  Acknowledges the efforts made by the Congolese authorities in the fight against impunity and in preventing sexual violence and violence against children, but considers that progress remains slow;

13.  Reminds the EU that there must be coherence between its policies, including in arms trade and raw materials trade, and that negotiations for agreements in the region must promote peace, stability, development and human rights;

14.  Calls for the EU to consider imposing targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on those responsible for the massacres in Eastern Congo and the violent crackdown in the DRC, so as to help prevent further violence;

15.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to maintain their assistance to the people of the DRC in order to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable sections of the population, in particular the internally displaced;

16.  Condemns all attacks against humanitarian actors and impediments to humanitarian access; urges all parties to the conflict to respect the independence, neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian actors;

17.  Reaffirms that businesses’ activities must comply fully with international human rights standards; calls on the Member States, therefore, to ensure that businesses under their national jurisdictions do not disregard human rights and the international standards linked to their activities in third countries;

18.  Welcomes the Congolese authorities’ efforts to implement the legislation which forbids trading in and processing of minerals in areas where there is illegal exploitation of minerals, such as those controlled by armed groups; calls on the Congolese authorities to reinforce the implementation of the legislation and enable more thorough scrutiny regarding mining deals and the misuse of mining revenues; calls for the EU to support the DRC’s efforts in this regard through its development cooperation policies; welcomes the recently agreed European understanding concerning mandatory due diligence checks on suppliers of conflict minerals as a first step to addressing European businesses’ responsibilities in this matter, and urges the EU to translate this understanding into ambitious legislation to be adopted swiftly;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, the ACP-EU Council, the Secretary‑General of the UN, the UN Human Rights Council and the President, Prime Minister and Parliament of the DRC.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0085.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0278.

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