On Wednesday, the European Parliament requested an international investigation into the violence in Kasai, central region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to “ensure that the perpetrators of these massacres are accountable for their actions”.
In a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, MEPs say that this Commission should include experts from the United Nations, and are “deeply concerned about the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation” in the DRC.
The Kasai region has been shaken since September by the rebellion of Kamwina Nsapu, a traditional leader killed in August 2016 during a military operation after rebelling against the Kinshasa authorities.
These violence involving militia, soldiers and police officers made more than 400 deaths-including two UN investigators in March-and caused the displacement of 1.3 million people.
“The first onus is on the government of the DRC to protect civilians in its territory and subject to its administration, including crimes against humanity and war crimes,” says Parliament.
The elected officials also deplored the “procrastination” in the organization of the forthcoming elections in the DRC, in principle scheduled before the end of 2017, to designate a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is still in power almost six months after the end of his term.
In this regard, Parliament calls for the “immediate establishment of a National Council to follow the agreement and the electoral process”, and the publication “of a detailed electoral calendar”, in accordance with an agreement concluded on 31 December last between the majority and the opposition.
In the debate that preceded the vote on the resolution, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Christos Stylianides, stressed the need to “fully implement the political agreement of 31 December “, and to “create the political atmosphere conducive to credible, transparent and open elections “.
“Intimidation and arbitrary arrests of opponents and activists, as well as politically-oriented prosecutions, do not contribute to such an environment “, observed Mr. Stylianides.
The sanctions imposed by the EU at the end of May by eight officials of the security apparatus in the DRC, for “serious human rights violations”, aim to “encourage a change of policy or behaviour” on the part of the authorities, the Commissioner said.
“The sanctions are reversible-we would be open to the idea of lifting them if the people concerned showed that they turn their backs on the violence ,” he added. On the other hand, the EU could include in the list of people sanctioned those who “stand in the way of a peaceful and consensual end of crisis”, and this “at all levels, including at political level “, the European leader stressed.