On the night of 14 October 2004, a group of 6 to 7 poorly armed and organised individuals attacked the little south eastern town of Kilwa. Calling their selves the Mouvement Révolutionnaire de Libération du Katanga (MRLK), a rebel movement seeking the independence of Katanga, the next day they took over the town and about 100 youths voluntarily joined their ranks. No human rights violations were reported during this period. However, in response, and for fear for their nearby mining operations, the Australian company Anvil Mining called in the 62th Infantry Brigade of the Congolese army stationed in Pweto, about 135 kms away, and provided trucks, drivers, food and other logistical support to facilitate their movement to Kilwa. The army invaded the town in full force, bombing homes and conducting arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, torture, pillage and summary executions.
A UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) investigation carried out 22-24 October 2004 put the death toll at 73, including summary executions of 28 arrestees. In 2007, 8 accused army commanders and 3 Anvil Mining employees were brought before a military court but the case was dismissed. An appeal against this decision was also dismissed on procedural misconduct thus blocking any chances of reparation for the victims.
Alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The complainants therefore allege the violation of their rights as guaranteed by the African Charter. In particular, they allege violations of;
Article – 1 Obligation of Member States
Article – 4 Rights to life
Article – 5 Prohibition of Torture
Article – 6 Protection from Arbitrary Arrest
Article – 7(1) Right to fair trial
Article – 14 Right to Property
Article – 26 Duty to Guarantee Independence of Courts
This communication was filed before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Status of the Communication
The people of Kilwa represented by IHRDA, Action contre l’impunité des droits humains (ACIDH) and Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) filed a communication before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACmHPR) against the Democratic Republic of Congo. The case on alleged violation of the rights of the people of Kilwa by the military, equipped by an Australian Mining Company in Katanga called Anvil Mining, was dismissed at the national level.
The communication made progress by moving from the seizure stage to the admissibility stage. Unfortunately, it has been at the admissibility stage for 2 year 4 months (6 May 2011 – date) before the ACmHPR. After an unsatisfactory pursuit at the national level, justice is yet to be served.
The communication, relating to human rights violations which occurred in Kilwa in October 2004, was seized of by the African Commission in November 2010.The case is filed on behalf of Pierre Kunda Musopelo, Ulimwengu Lukumani, Ulimwengu Nombele (all of late) and two victims who have elected anonymity for fear of reprisals. The complainants allege that the events which took place in the south-eastern rural area of Kilwa and the subsequent failure of the Congolese government to ensure reparation for victims are in violation of several provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
IHRDA’s litigation partners in this communication are Action contre l’impunité des droits humains (ACIDH) and Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID).