Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [press release] the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government to control the country's security forces and prevent violence against the political opposition following the country's presidential election. HRW reported that 18 civilians have been killed and about 100 seriously wounded during unrest following the presidential elections in the DRC on November 28. HRW reported that the Republican Guard soldiers were responsible for most of the deaths. The report was based on HRW staff who worked alongside Congolese human rights activists, serving as election observers during the presidential election. HRW's statement says:
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials state that security forces shall apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use lethal force only when it is strictly necessary to protect life. The Basic Principles state that, "Governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law."HRW also urged the government to take steps to hold the individuals accountable who either participated in the post-election violence or attempted to commit election fraud.
The DRC has faced significant international pressure to ensure fair elections and prevent election violence. On Thursday, top UN officials with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) [official website] decried [JURIST report] post-election violence in the DRC and called for restraint. MONUSCO urged all parties to remain calm and await the decision of the seven-member Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on the preliminary results of the elections. Last month, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said his office would prosecute individuals involved election violence [JURIST report] in the DRC. The chief prosecutor's warning came just days after the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) [official website] on urged the DRC government to take action to abolish election-related violence [JURIST report] before the presidential election on November 28.