This report is the sum of the work of a team of men and women, from the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo (DRC) and beyond, who have spared no effort in providing theCongolese people and their leaders with a basic tool to help them build a better futurewhere impunity has no place. The result of many interviews, meetings and exchangeswith several hundred Congolese men and women, the report endeavours to reflect andsubstantiate their aspirations. However, no report could adequately describe the horrorsexperienced by civilian populations in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of theCongo. Every individual has at least one story to tell of suffering and loss. In somecases, victims have turned perpetrators, and perpetrators have in turn been victims ofserious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in a cycle ofviolence that continues to this day.
This report does not seek to lecture the men andwomen who hold the country's future in their hands. It is intended to be inclusive andrepresentative in its description of the acts of violence that have affected the entireCongolese population directly and indirectly. Its aim is not to attribute individualresponsibility or blame one group rather than another, and nothing has been concealed,leaving to the victims and witnesses the sometimes brutal description of the tragediesthey will never forget. It is meant as a first step towards a sometimes painful but verynecessary application of the truth. Admittedly, the implicit assumption of such a plan isthat the authorities and the Congolese people themselves will take over.This report also takes an objective look at justice in the DRC, inspired by the remarksand observations of many of the system's actors, who are also its victims. It offers anumber of options and avenues that should inspire Congolese society in the difficult taskof reforming the justice system, which is threatened on all sides. It calls for the unfailingcommitment of the authorities to restore justice as one of the fundamental pillars ofCongolese democracy. Lastly, it looks to the future by formulating a series of optionsthat could be used by Congolese society to come to terms with its past, fight impunityand handle the present situation without the risk of such atrocities happening again.
Congolese men and women crave truth and justice. They have gone without both for toolong. It is up to the DRC and its people to take the initiative to develop and implementtheir strategy for transitional justice. They can, however, count on the support of theinternational community in this respect. The Office of the United Nations HighCommissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will remain by the side of the DRC and itspeople in this important journey towards truly sustainable peace.