The culture of impunity, atrocities and violence against civilians and the plundering of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo must come to an end, MEPs said in a debate on Wednesday, 22 September. Parliament held discussions in light of a recent UN draft report (to be made public on 1 October) that documents the worst human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 1993 and 2003.
Africa's "World war" 1998-2003: over 5,4 million dead in the conflict. Violence continues in Eastern DRC.
Rape has become a weapon of war used by rebels, members of the Congolese army and civilian. The UN estimates that over 200,000 women have been raped since war began in the DRC more than a decade ago. Despite its wealth of natural resources including minerals and forests, DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world – 80 % of its population live in poverty and it is struggling to recover from years of conflict.
In the debate MEPs highlighted that perpetrators go free and called for an end to the impunity. Several MEPs also mentioned the role and passive nature of UN troops.
Belgian Socialist MEP Veronique De Keyser warned that a culture of immunity still remains despite the efforts of the international community.
Filip Kaczmarek (EPP), a Polish MEP, cited the French charity MSF saying that "55 % of all rapes committed in the world have been committed in Eastern Congo". He said the problem on such a scale that UN is doing very little to put an end. "This culture of impunity must be finished once and for all!" Green MEP Isabelle Durant also stressed that the pillage of the DRC was continuing with impunity.
Speaking for the Council and representing EU foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton Olivier Chastel noted that impunity for those who commit crimes was a major problem.-
Charles Goerens (ALDE) said that any response must come from the African Union, the UN and the International Community.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL) noted that it took the gang rape of scores of people this summer to force the international community to act.
Charles Tannock (ECR) told the House that "the Kimberley Process to be extended to cover other key natural resources in Africa. Human rights abuses in Africa, which are all too common regrettably, are often linked to competition for the control of mineral resources. The Kimberley Process has been hugely successful in curtailing the trade in conflict or blood diamonds".
Dutch MEP Bastiaan Belder (EFD) said "the crimes are taking place exactly where we find Congo's biggest economic richness. Following recent sources, the economic potential of mines in that country is 24 billion."