Version 4

September 1999

Country Information and Policy Unit




1.1 - 1.5


  1. Physical
  2. Social and Economic




The Mobutu Years

The Kabila Regime

Rebellion in the East


3.1 - 3.11

3.12 -3.15

3.16- 3.20



The Judiciary

Security Forces


Health and Education


4.1 - 4.2




4.6 - 4.7



A.1 - A.5


B.1 - B.3


Political Activity

Human Rights Groups


Use of Military Courts

Arbitrary Arrest/Detention/Torture/Killings

Former Mobutu Supporters

UNHCR Guidelines on Asylum Seekers associated with the Mobutu Regime

Ethnic Issues


Children/Child Soldiers




C.1 - C.5


C.7 - C.8


C.10 -C.11

C.12 -C.16

C.17 -C.18

C.19 -C.22

C.23 -C.24

C.25 -C.26








1.1 This assessment has been produced by the Country Information & Policy Unit, Immigration & Nationality Directorate, Home Office, from information obtained from a variety of sources.

1.2 The assessment has been prepared for background purposes for those involved in the asylum determination process. The information it contains is not exhaustive, nor is it intended to catalogue all human rights violations. It concentrates on the issues most commonly raised in asylum claims made in the United Kingdom. It represents the current assessment by the Immigration & Nationality Directorate of the general socio-political and human rights situation in the country.

1.3 The assessment is sourced throughout. It is intended to be used by caseworkers as a signpost to the source material, which has been made available to them. The vast majority of the source material is readily available in the public domain.

1.4 It is intended to revise the assessment on a 6-monthly basis while the country remains within the top 35 asylum producing countries in the United Kingdom.

1.5 The assessment will be placed on the Internet ( An electronic copy of the assessment has been made available to the following organisations:

Amnesty International UK

Immigration Advisory Service

Immigration Appellate Authority

Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants


Medical Foundation for the care of Victims of Torture

Refugee Council

Refugee Legal Centre

UN High Commissioner for Refugees



2.1 Covering an area of 2,344,885 sq km (905,365 sq mi) DRC is, after Sudan, the largest country of sub-Saharan Africa. It shares borders with eight other countries: Central African Republic and Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to the east, (also to the east is Lake Tanganyika which separates DRC from Tanzania); Zambia to the south; Angola to the south-west; and Republic of Congo to the north-west. DRC also has a 40 km (25 mi) coastline to the west on the Atlantic Ocean. The dominant geographical feature is the vast basin of the River Congo, known locally as the Zaire, which slopes upwards on all sides into plateaux and mountain ranges. The climate is equatorial, with plentiful rainfall. [1,2]


2.2 The DRC has a population of approximately 45 million, with some 4.9 million in the capital, Kinshasa. Other major cities include Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga, Kisangani and Bukavu. About 70% of the population live in rural areas. Linguistically as well as ethnically, the country is highly diverse, with over 400 languages, of which Kiswahili, Kiluba, Kikongo and Lingala are the most widely spoken and have official status.[5] French has hitherto been the official language but the draft constitution has proposed that both English and French should be adopted. [1,2,3b]

2.3 The major ethnic groups are the Bantu, comprising mainly the Luba, Kongo, Mongo, Lunda, Tchokwe, Tetala, Lulua, Bangala and Ngombe, who make up 80% of the population. The remainder are Sudanese (the Ngbandi, Ngabaka, Mbanja, Moru-Mangbetu and Zande); Nilotes (including the Alur, Lugbara and Logo); Pygmies; Bambutis; and Hamites. Many ethnic groups are split by the national boundaries of the region. About half the population is Roman Catholic. Other recognised religious groups include Protestant churches (28%), and Kimbanguist (16%).[1,2,3b]

2.4 Politically, the country is divided into 11 administrative provinces: Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Haut-Congo, Kasai east, Kasai west, Kinshasa, North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga (formerly Shaba).[2]

2.5 The country is richly endowed with natural resources, and an abundance of mineral reserves, in particular, copper and cobalt in Katanga, diamonds in Kasai, and offshore petroleum production. Agriculture and forestry employ over 60% of the population. Food can be easily grown but cannot be easily transported to the main population centres due to the poor road and rail infrastructure. Congo river traffic is the most significant means of transport, but the journey between Kinshasa and Kisangani can take several weeks.[1]

2.6 Despite its natural riches the economic history of the country has been one of decline, especially since the 1990s. Production and incomes have fallen steadily, as the financial institutions have virtually collapsed. Many parts of the country reverted to a barter system. Economic deprivation has been an important condition underlying the violent crime and extortion practices which were widespread especially in the major cities. The riots of September 1991 and January 1993 in which members of the military took a leading role in the disorder reflected popular discontent. Foreign economic assistance was limited or withdrawn on more than one occasion in response to allegations of abuses of human rights under the Mobutu regime. The rebellion of August 1998, and subsequent foreign intervention, has had a further adverse effect on the economy. [1,3b,5,13]


(See Annex A for detailed chronology)

The Mobutu Years

3.1 The country gained independence from Belgium on 30 June 1960 as the Republic of the Congo. Following an army mutiny and power struggles, full executive power was assumed by Joseph-Desire Mobutu in 1965. He remained head of an authoritarian regime until 17 May 1997. [1]

3.2 It was not until 24 April 1990 that external and internal pressure obliged Mobutu to introduce political pluralism and declare an end to the one-party state, although he retained a hold on his personal power. [1]

3.3 Nearly 400 political parties emerged, following the announcement of 24 April 1990, notably the Union des Federalistes et Republicains Independants (UFERI), led by Nguza Karl-i-Bond, and the Parti Democrate et Social Chretien (PDSC), as well as the UDPS. The Union Sacre de l'Opposition Radicale (USOR) organisation comprised 130 parties at July 1991.[1]

3.4 A Sovereign National Conference (CNS) on a revised constitution, which was previously opened in 1991 and in abeyance during the political crises of the following months was reopened in 1992 under the chairmanship of Archbishop Monsengwo to act as an interim legislature. It was consistently at loggerheads with Mobutu in his attempts to retain power. [1]

3.5 A number of governments were formed in response to the various political and economic crises which beset the country over the following years. In September 1991 a number of violent demonstrations of civil unrest took place, with heavy casualties. These reflected the general frustration with the political situation and massive inflation. In 1991 the "government of crisis" headed by the leading UDPS opposition figure, Etienne Tshisekedi, was followed by another headed by Karl-I-Bond (UFERI). In December 1992 the CNS was succeeded by a High Council of the Republic (HCR) which acted as a parliament. During 1993 power struggles between Mobutu and the HCR led to the establishment of two competing governments, headed respectively by Tshisekedi, and Faustin Birindwa (ex- UDPS). [1, 8a]

3.6 In January 1994 the HCR was reconstituted as a transitional legislature (HCR-PT) which endorsed the organisation of a constitutional referendum and presidential and legislative elections and elected Leon Kengo Wa Dondo as prime minister in June of that year. Although its proposals to draw up an electoral timetable were delayed beyond the intended date of July 1995, it was announced that elections would be held in mid-1997, to be preceded by a constitutional referendum. From mid-1994, serious ethnic and refugee problems developed in the east as a result of the Hutu exodus which followed the Rwandan genocide and change of government. [1,3a]

3.7 In August 1996 Mobutu left the country for cancer treatment in Switzerland and remained there for 4 months Although he remained nominally in control his prolonged absence led to a significant decline in his authority. The caretaker government of Kengo wa Dondo was left to confront a rapid escalation of violence in the east. What initially appeared to be a regional movement seeking to protect the Tutsi population in South Kivu soon gathered momentum and and emerged as a national rebellion with the support of Rwanda seeking to overthrow the Mobutu regime. Tutsi rebels were joined by other dissidents to form the Alliance des forces democratiques pour le liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL) led by Laurent-Desire Kabila. By November 1996 AFDL forces occupied a substantial area of the east of the country. [1]

3.8 Mobutu returned to Kinshasa in December 1996 and ordered the formation of a crisis government still headed by Kengo wa Dondo but including some opposition members. It excluded the UDPS which prompted the faction headed by Tshisekedi to mount a campaign of civil disobedience and, in January 1997, to declare its support for the AFDL. In February 1997 Mobutu banned all demonstrations and industrial action. In the ensuing three months further territory fell to AFDL troops with little opposition from government forces. In March 1997 following the fall of the strategic town of Kisangani the HCR-PT voted to dismiss Kengo wa Dondo. He was replaced briefly at the beginning of April 1997 by Tshisekedi. On 8 April Mobutu declared a nationa;l state of emergency, dismissing the government and appointing General Likulia Bolongo as the head of a further government of national salvation. [1]

3.9 Following inconclusive peace talks between Mobutu and Kabila mediated by President Mandela, Mobutu refused to resign and Kabila reiterated his intention to seize Kinshasa by force. A hastily assembled regional initiative to transfer interim power to Archbishop Monsengwo, chairman of the HCR-PT, was rejected by the rebels as a procedural device designed to afford Mobutu a dignified withdrawal from office. [1]

3.10 On 16 May 1997 Mobutu and his entourage left Kinshasa travelling to Togo then to Morocco. Many of his family and supporters fled to the neighbouring Republic of Congo. Mobutu died in Morocco in September 1997. [1]

3.11 The Home Secretary decided on 16 May 1997 that the country had undergone such a fundamental change in circumstances that he would not normally order the return of a person to that country for the time being. On 20 May 1998 he announced that he was satisfied that there was sufficient information about the country, including guidelines issued by the UNHCR for assessment of refugees and asylum seekers, to resume the consideration of asylum claims from the country. [14ab]

The Kabila Regime

3.12 On 17 May 1997, following a Tutsi-dominated uprising originating in the north-east of the country the previous year (see above), power was seized by the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL), under the leadership of Laurent-Desire Kabila. [1] The AFDL force was said to be assisted by other countries such as Rwanda, Zambia , Zimbabwe and Angola. [3b]

3.13 On 27 May 1997 the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a transitional government was appointed with Kabila at its head holding executive, legislative and military power. Of the previously existing institutions only the judiciary was not disbanded.[8c] The government announced on 23 May 1997 was dominated by AFDL members but also included members of the UDPS and the Front Patriotique and avoided a potentially unpopular large preponderance of ethnic Tutsis. [1] Most prominent members of the Mobutu regime had left the country but a large circle of former ministers, party officials and business associates remained who either could not escape in time or did not feel compelled to. [8c] In the first few weeks in power the government appropriated property and valuables of prominent Mobutists and reallocated them to its own supporters and arrested about 40 officials of the former regime (see Former Mobutu Supporters). [8c,10]

3.14 The new regime faced a massive task to carry out its promises to rehabilitate the economy and infrastructure and to restore democracy. It pledged a two year period of reconstruction, followed by elections in April 1999. On 28 May 1999, following anti-government demonstrations, a ban on political activity was imposed, although not on the parties themselves. Public political demonstrations in defiance of the ban were generally repressed Some progress with economic stabilisation was made, but corruption levels are said to be as high as during the Mobutu years, and the recent rebellion and foreign intervention has had very serious adverse consequences for the economy. (see Human Rights Section) [3b,5,13]

3.15 In January 1999, the regime fulfilled its promise to lift the ban on public political gatherings prior to elections.[16i] However, arrangements to dissolve existing parties and for re-registration announced at the same time were criticised as excessively stringent. [16gj] Kabila announced in April that elections would not occur until later in the year but instead called for a national debate to be held outside the country on the draft constitution, legitimatisation of power and liberalising political activity. [16k] The first of a proposed series of People’s Power Committees was held to debate issues of national interest and raise mass awareness and Kabila also announced that the functions of his disbanded AFDL party would be assumed by the Committees. [16lmn]

Rebellion in the East

3.16 In August 1998 a rebellion began in the east of the country when a group calling itself the Rassamblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD) announced its intention to oust Kabila. The rebels appear to be a disparate group of disaffected ex-Kabila civilian and military and opposition figures from outside and inside the country. The first political leader emerged as Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, a former lecturer at Dar-es-Salaam University, [5,6,13]

3.17 The RCD rebels, assisted by Rwandan and Ugandan forces have captured a large area comprising most of the east of the country. However, their initial attempt to take Kinshasa was stalled after military support to Kabila was provided by Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, and later Chad. [2,13] Internal disagreements later emerged within the RCD: one of the original leaders, Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, resigned [16f] and the RCD split into two factions: one headed by Wamba, and the other by Dr Emile Ilunga. [16s] Another rebel group, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) is operating in Equateur province in the north east. [11d, 16st]

3.18 Intensive diplomatic efforts to promote a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement which meets the security concerns of neighbouring countries resulted in a ceasefire agreement by all belligerent countries on 10 July, by the MLC on 10 August and by the RCD on 31 August 1999 which sets out arrangements for an end to the fighting and the start of a national dialogue. [16x]

3.19 During the rebellion there have been reports of atrocities on both sides, including reports of killings in the areas under rebel control.[8e,11c] Initially, popular resentment against Tutsis in Kinshasa, was whipped up by government "hate radio", with individuals suspected of Tutsi origin being attacked, killed or arrested.[11cd,13] In the east, and in neighbouring countries, UN agencies and NGOs are providing food and health aid to the thousands affected, many of whom have been displaced. [5,13,16e]

3.20 In August 1998, in response to the situation following the start of the rebellion, the Home Secretary suspended the consideration of asylum applications and the return of rejected asylum seekers to the country. On 19 May 1999, having monitored the situation in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UNHCR, these were resumed under conditions set out in a letter to legal and human rights organisations. [15]



4.1 The AFDL established a new order by formally taking power and naming its president, Laurent-Desire Kabila, as head of state with full executive, legislative and military powers. The previous constitution and state institutions were abolished, with the exception of the judiciary, and a 15-point constitutional decree, to remain in force until the adoption of a new constitution, established a president, a government, and courts and tribunals. [3b,5]

4.2 In May 1998 a transitional constituent assembly was decreed with powers to approve the constitution and pave the way for the promised elections. In October 1998 the President instead set up a Commission which examined the draft constitution and submitted comments to the president. The final text provides for a 2-chamber parliament in which the President appoints the Prime Minister; provincial assemblies; English as an official language in addition to French; a new High Judiciary Authority headed by the President; and restrictions on members of political parties joining international organisations. [4d,5,] The draft constitution has been criticised for not including the agreements of the National Sovereign Conference and for the lack of public consultation [4d], also for not addressing the issue of nationality legislation which discriminates against persons of Rwandese origin. [3b]

The Judiciary

4.3 The judiciary comprises a Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, County and magistrates courts. It has been underfunded and ineffective since independence, and subject to widespread corruption among judges and magistrates.[3b,5,7b,13] The government has resorted to the use of military courts to try civilians - see Use of Military Courts.

Security Forces

4.4 The security agencies of the Mobutu regime [4a,12] have been disbanded, and the former army was integrated into the forces of the present regime, although some have joined opposition groups.[9] The security forces have committed numerous serious human rights abuses under both the previous and present regimes. [3ab,4ad,5] (See Arbitrary Arrest/Detention/Torture/Killings). They consist of a national police force under the Ministry of Interior, a National Security Council (CNS) and the Congolese Armed Forces (FAC). A number of other agencies operate with wide powers to arrest, detain and investigate, including the Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) known as ex-Circo [8e], the National Information Agency (ANR) [13], the Military Detection of Anti-Patriotic Activists (DEMIAP), the National Security Directorship (DESN) and others.[5,12]


4.5The present regime operates over 200 prisons and other places of detention, many inherited from the Mobutu regime. Overcrowding and corruption in these places was widespread under Mobutu, with reports of torture, beatings, and lack of food, water and sanitation. The practice of using unofficial detention sites also continues under the Kabila regime with further reports of arbitrary detention and torture.[4cd,5,8b,10,12]

(See Arbitrary Arrest/Detention/Torture/Killings).

Health and Education

4.6 Health In 1995 less than 1% of central government spending was allocated to public health.[2] The country suffers from a severe shortage of medical staff and hospitals.[2,4d,13] The average life expectancy is 52 and 50.4 years, for males and females respectively.[2] Epidemics of various diseases have occurred especially since the rebellion began last year.[4d]

4.7 Education In 1995 less than 1% of central government spending was allocated to education. [2] Primary education, from 6 to 12 years is officially compulsory [2] but a high percentage of children do not have access.[4d,13] In 1993, just over half of the primary age group were enrolled and less than 20% in the secondary school age group of 12 to 18 years.[2] The estimated average illiteracy rate in 1995 was 22.7%.[2] The country has 4 universities, situated at Kinshasa, Kinshasa/Limete, Kisangani and Lumbumbashi.[2]


A. General Assessment

5.A.1 The 30 years of Mobutu's power were characterised by corruption and neglect of its citizens welfare in terms of healthcare, education, and justice, despite the country's ratification of a number of international instruments on human rights. Economic instability and violent crime were widespread. [3a,4abc,8ab,12] In 1995, VSV considered that problems of living under a regime of political stagnation encouraged many to emigrate and submit an application for asylum on political, and sometimes humanitarian, grounds, rather than socio-economic grounds as such applications are unlikely to succeed.[7a]

5.A.2 Opposition politics were permitted after 1990, although Mobutu retained his hold on personal power.[1] During this period, a transition process to democratic rule was encouraged by civil society groups and churches, with relative progress in terms of freedom of expression, association and assembly and some measure of multi-partyism.[3b,8d] However, members of the army and security forces, who were themselves often unpaid for lengthy periods, were liable to use violence and arrest in an arbitrary fashion, and to use violence, imprisonment and torture to quell dissent and demonstrations, whether against political, ethnic or economic issues.[3a,4a,8a,12] The ethnic conflicts which developed in the east of the country led to thousands of deaths from violence, disease and starvation.[3ab,4ad] In general, no action was taken to punish the perpetrators of these violations.[4ac,8cd,11b]

5.A.3 President Kabila stressed that his government could not undo all the abuses of the Mobutu era in one year and therefore gave himself 2 years to stabilise the country and hold elections.[3b] The deadline for elections in April 1999 having passed, the government has now said that elections could only take place if they were held nationwide [16n] Some progress has been made with drawing up a new constitution [4d] and the president has signalled his wish to hold a pre-election census although this is also unlikely in the present situation where more than one-third of the country is in rebel hands.[3b,4d,5] In general, the regime's performance has disappointed observers, who doubt the President's commitment to democracy and human rights since the government has shown strong authoritarian tendencies and little commitment to good governance.[3b,5] Progress with economic reform has been limited and the effect of the rebellion in August 1998 has had a further adverse effect on the economy.[5,13] Allegations of corruption, arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of government opponents continue to be made (see Arbitrary Arrest/Detention/Torture/Killings ).

5.A.4 Human rights workers and journalists have also been arrested, ill-treated and imprisoned.[3b,5,8de9,10,11ad] A military court with no right of appeal to a higher court has been used to try civilians and impose sentences of imprisonment and execution, including sentences of imprisonment on critics and opponents of the regime. [3b,4d,8de,11ad]

5.A.5 The regime has been accused of perpetrating and permitting ethnic violence in the east of the country.[4d,11ab] A UN Investigative Team which was hampered in carrying out its work concluded in October 1998, that, from the limited information it was able to collect, killings and possibly an attempt at genocide, may have been carried out against people of Hutu ethnic origin by members of Kabila's AFDL forces in 1996/7 during the rebellion which brought him to power.[4c] Allegations have also been made of attacks against people of Rwandan Tutsi origin, and discriminatory measures against citizens of Rwandan descent in North Kivu province and elsewhere. (see Ethnic Issues). [3b,4abc,5,8c,11bcd] In late August and September 1999 the UN Special Rapporteur visited the country to assess the human rights situation. He reported concerns in the human rights situation on both sides of the conflict. [16z]

B. Security Situation

5.B.1 Insecurity and violence are widespread. Criminal activity cannot be curbed by the security forces. The situation has been destabilised by unpaid soldiers.[3b] Government-held areas, including Kinshasa, are stable at present but the capital has been affected by the economic cost of the war in the east and civil unrest could occur. [5,13]

5.B.2 The rebels currently control over one-third of the country in the east, also the north (Equateur province). [5,13] Reports of mass killings of Tutsis and Banyamulenge by government forces have been made.[4d,13] There has also been popular resentment against Tutsis in Kinshasa, whipped up by government "hate radio" in August 1998, with individuals suspected of Tutsi origin being arrested, attacked or killed.[4d,5,8e,11bcd,13] Both sides in the conflict have been accused by international organisations and by local human rights groups of atrocities and human rights abuses during the fighting. [4d,7b,8de,11cd]

5.B.3 Attempts by international organisations and other countries to broker an end to the conflict have resulted in the signing of a peace agreement by the governments concerned on 10 July, by the MLC on 1 August and by the RCD on 31 August 1999. Meanwhile international humanitarian resources are operating under difficult conditions to provide food and health aid to some of those affected, many of whom have been displaced. [4d,13]

C. Specific Issues/Groups

Political Activity

5.C.1 The main political parties of the Kabila regime have been the ruling ADFL (or AFDL); UDPS; PDSC; UFERI; PALU; Patriotic Front; FONUS; Forces du Futur. Information about the main political parties, also including the Mobutist MPR party, is at:

¨ Annex C;

¨ Paragraph 2.4/pages 10-11 of source 3a;

¨ Paragraph 2.5/pages 10-13 of source 3b; and

¨ Pages 21-27 of source 8d.

5.C.2 The Kabila regime has tolerated the existence of a range of political parties in addition to its own AFDL. [3b] A number of members of opposition parties are government ministers, although not as representatives of their own parties.[3b] Public political activity, although not membership of political parties, was banned by the regime soon after taking power.[5] President Kabila had promised that this ban would be lifted in early 1999, just before the elections promised for April 1999. The dissolution of the AFDL party and conditions for the resumption of political activity and registration of new political parties were announced in January 1999 [2]. (see para 5.C.5 below).

5.C.3 The ban on public political activity has generally been enforced by violence, arrests and detention for varying periods.[3b,5,8d,10,11a] Critics of the regime have also been arrested and ill-treated on a number of occasions although the majority have been released after a short time. [3b,5,8d,11d] The veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the UDPS, a persistent critic of the regime, was forced to internal exile in his home village for four months in 1998.[5] In May 1998 some prominent members of political parties were sentenced by the military court: Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, leader of Forces du Futur received a suspended sentence (he was one of the early leaders of the August 1998 rebellion but resigned in January 1999); Joseph Olenghankoy, leader of FONUS, and some of his supporters who had been arrested several months previously on unspecified charges were sentenced to varying periods of imprisonment of up to 20 years. [5,8d,10] Olenghankoy and two other opponents of the regime who were sentenced to imprisonment by the military court were released in June 1999. [16p] At the end of 1998 the government held fewer than a dozen political detainees, excluding Tutsis and prisoners of war.[5]

5.C.4 According to a report by the exiled human rights group ASADHO (formerly AZADHO) in June 1998, statements against opposition parties by President Kabila and attacks against the headquarters of the UDPS and FONUS show that the measures taken against political parties are not only directed against their activities but towards their existence.[9] However, the UNHCR assessment in January 1998 [3c] and that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in January 1999 [13] was that there is no indication that membership of a political party is of itself likely to lead to arrest or ill-treatment.

5.C.5 In January 1999 two decrees were published setting out arrangements for the registration of new political parties and holding of public meetings. Existing parties were dissolved and new parties were required to register. However, the conditions laid down for parties have been criticised for their restrictive nature. At the same time the AFDL party was dissolved and transformed into People's Power Committees to encourage local involvement in the political process. [2,16ghijklmno]

Human Rights Groups

5.C.6 The Kabila regime has a track record of opposing Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and human rights organisations, asserting that they are hostile political organisations attempting to destabilise the government and protect anti-government elements in the refugee camps.[3b,10] In April 1998 the government took a number of actions against local human rights organisations: one of the country's main human rights groups, AZADHO, was banned and other local human rights organisations were ordered to register with the Justice Ministry. More than 100 were denied recognition.[5,11a] Both government and RCD rebel groups have been accused of harassing human rights workers: local human rights offices have been raided and human rights activists have been arrested or received death threats or other forms of intimidation. [3b,4d,5,8de,9,10,11ad]

Media / Journalists

5.C.7 A number of daily newspapers and periodicals circulate mainly in the cities and criticism in the press is tolerated up to a point.[13] The arrest and detention of a number of journalists and editors has been reported, the majority of whom have been released after a short time. [5,13] However, several journalists have been sentenced to jail terms by the military tribunal.[4d,5,8d,10,11a]

5.C.8 Written media do not however reach a large part of the population due to the country's illiteracy rate.[5] The national radio and television networks which are owned by the government have been the principal means of communication with the population and the regime has made use of official TV and radio to broadcast its message.[13] A number of private radio stations also operate and broadcast foreign source news programmes.[5] In July 1999 the government banned the rebroadcasting of foreign news bulletins. [16r] In April 1998 the government closed the Catholic Radio Amani, for broadcasting critical material.[5,11a] There are five television stations in the Kinshasa area, one of which is state-owned.[5] There are plenty of discussion programmes on the TV.[13]

Use of Military Courts

5.C.9 In August 1997 a military Court of Justice was established by decree. This has been used to try civilians and has imposed sentences of imprisonment and death for murder and armed robbery. There is no right of appeal to a higher court, only the president can alter the court's judgements. There have been several reports of public executions. The court has also been used to try critics and opponents of the regime. [3b,4d,5,11a] There have been calls by internal and external observers for this court to be abolished. [16u]

Arbitrary Arrest/Detention/Torture/Killings

5.C.10 Insecurity and violence are widespread in the country, as in the Mobutu years. Criminal activity cannot be controlled by the security forces, who are themselves often responsible for extra judicial killings, mutilations, disappearances, torture, rape and arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens. Journalists, human rights activists and political activists, have been arrested without warrant.[3b,5,8d,9,10,11a]

5.C.11 There are credible reports that many of those arrested have been subject to torture and ill-treatment. [4d,5,8bde,11ac,12] Torture has been carried out in prisons (See also Prisons) and in premises used by government security agencies (eg Garde Civile, DSP, the "Owls", SNIP, SARM under Mobutu; DEMIAP, ANR, CNS, DESN under Kabila). Beatings, whippings and use of electric batons, also rape have been cited, including a form of brutal beating "passer a tabac" administered to detainees. Torture methods reported by the Medical Foundation as used under the Mobutu regime include: burning with cigarettes; being hung by the feet; a piece of metal placed between the fingers which were pressed hard together; arm placed in a wall that was full of ants; left kneeling on ground covered with bottle caps, both arms bound behind; forced to stand naked for many hours in the sun without water; forced labour; solitary confinement.[12] UNHCR, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also report detention and torture, including rape, by both sides in the present rebellion.[4d,8e,11cd]

Former Mobutu Supporters

5.C.12 Ill-treatment and reprisals against individuals associated with the previous regime who have remained in the country has not taken place on a widespread scale. However, about 40 officials of the former regime were arrested on charges of embezzlement and corruption soon after the AFDL took power in May 1997. [3b,8c,10] These included a former Zairean national bank governor, his deputy, ex-FAZ generals, the secretary general of the MPR, a former chief executive of a water distribution company and a number of former ministers. [8c] Some were brought to trial in December 1997 on charges of embezzlement of public funds and corruption. The trials were suspended and twentysix of them were provisionally released in February 1998 after 8 months of imprisonment, after paying a sum of money equal to that which they had allegedly misappropriated. The others are still awaiting trial [3b,8c,10] By April 1998 only about 6 former officials remained behind bars [10].

5.C.13 The government set up an agency, the Office of Ill-Gotten Gains (OBMA), to search for, and confiscate assets supposedly belonging to the state which were illegally obtained by the former elite and Mobutu supporters. This office has confiscated businesses worth over 200 million dollars and 350 houses and apartments in Kinshasa. However, according to Human rights Watch/Africa, in November 1997 it was reported that the extent of abuse by OBMA officials prompted Kabila to order the return of property seized from former officials. [3b,8c]

5.C.14 Kabila has invited former Mobutu associates to return and take part in rebuilding the country. Some former Mobutists have reportedly been arrested for criticising the government [16v] but the government claimed they had been interviewed rather than detained by the authorities.

5.C.15 Former members of the FAZ were reportedly subject to ill-treatment at the Kitona reeducation camp during the process of integrating them into the AFDL forces. [10,13]

5.C.16 Political activity in exile opposing the Kabila regime has mainly taken place in Belgium. The former Mobutist prime minister Leon Kengo wa Dondo formed a government in exile in February 1998. [16a] In July 1998 Brussels was also the setting for a meeting of opposition groups including the PDSC, Fonus, MNC-Lumumba and various small parties which appealed for a return to the decisions of the CNS (Sovereign National Conference) regarding democratisation and the establishment of a federal system.[16b] In the same month, Justine Kasavubu, formerly the DRC ambassador to Belgium, set up a new opposition party, the Rally for Congolese Democracy. [16cd]

UNHCR Guidelines on Asylum Seekers associated with the Mobutu Regime

5.C.17 In January 1998, the UNHCR issued guidelines for refugees and asylum seekers from the DRC who claim to be at risk on account of their association with the former regime. [3c]

5.C.18 In general, the UNHCR have assessed the following categories as being at risk:

¨ Soldiers of the Division Speciale Presidentielle (DSP).

These were mainly from Mobutu's tribe (Ngbandi) or region (Equateur). Members of the Ngbandi tribe were not assessed to be at risk purely on account of their ethnic origin.

¨ Few officials of the National Security Council were likely to deserve international protection.

¨ The activities of the security agencies SNIP and SARM were described without any recommendation.

¨ Forces Armees Zairoises (FAZ). The majority of the 60,000 soldiers of the former regime are still in the country. The majority were from Equateur region. They are to be integrated into the AFDL forces, but there are concerns about the fate of those who were sent to retraining camps. High ranked FAZ officers would have a well-founded fear of persecution.

¨ Garde Civile. Apart from being involved in 1991 and 1993 riots and lootings no serious crimes that might be considered as exclusion clauses have been reported against the staff, with the exception of its head, General Baramoto (who is now associated with the rebel cause).

¨ Leading and active members of the MPR, the Forces Politiques du Conclave and other pro-Mobutu parties; also political allies and Mobutu family members and close collaborators, especially those from Ngbandi tribe or Equateur region.

¨ Former ministers and ambassadors; opposition leaders and activists, but not sympathisers or members who were not playing a substantial role within their political parties.

¨ Some former Mobutu political opponents who had left the country during the previous regime would not necessarily be safe to return, depending on their relationship with AFDL.

¨ Human rights activists, journalists and other intellectuals are not for the time being facing any systematic or latent persecution, their applications should be assessed on a case by case basis, based on individual merits.

¨ Prosperous businessmen are suspected of having connived with the Mobutu regime in economic crimes. Some have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, and deprived of their property, whether or not they are connected with Mobutu or the MPR. An Office of Ill-Gotten gains has been set up.

¨ Ex-Zairean General Managing Directors of national companies were appointed by the former president on considerations of political support or affiliation, or membership of specific ethnic groups rather than competence or aptitude. Many have fled to avoid being subject to the DRC justice system and may be considered as economic criminals rather than victims of any possible persecution.

Ethnic Issues

5.C.19 Ethnic tensions, which are a long standing issue, are reflected in DRC internal and external politics. The province of Shaba, now Katanga, has tried to secede since independence and there is friction with the Luba from Kasai-oriental. There is the question of discrimination against the Banyamulenge, people of Rwandan origin (Hutu,Tutsi or Twa) who have been living in the east since the last century but are resented because of their ownership of land. Attempts to exclude them from citizenship were made in legislation of 1972 and 1981 and may again arise in the context of the proposed constitution, pre-election census and the registration of new political parties. There is also conflict in North Kivu between residents of Rwandan descent, the Banyarwanda, and the Hunde and Nyanga tribes over land property rights in which the 1981 legislation sought to undermine the Banyarwanda's claim to citizenship. [3b,4a,11c]

5.C.20 Existing tensions in the east of the country were exacerbated by the crisis in Rwanda in 1994 when millions of Rwandan refugees crossed the border. They were placed in a number of camps in the area and were subjected to acts of vandalism and violence from the Zaire military and the local populace, and also from units of the Rwandese militia (the Interhamwe) living within the camps. [3ab,4ab,11c]

5.C.21 Allegations have been made of large scale massacres of mainly Hutu refugees in 1996/7 by AFDL forces during the rebellion which overthrew the Mobutu regime.[8c], and have been investigated by the UN. (see Chronology) [4bd].

5.C.22 Persecution of Tutsis There is an apparent ethnic element in the rebellion which started in August 1998 shortly after the government had ordered the withdrawal of the foreign officials and forces of Rwandese/Tutsi origin which had been instrumental in bringing the regime to power. [4ce] Many attacks on Tutsis were carried out by, or at the instigation of, government forces in Kinshasa and in the east as they were accused of supporting the rebels. Many went into hiding or were detained in centres to which the ICRC were eventually given access. [8e,11cd] A planned programme of evacuation has recently taken place. [16w]


5.C.23 The Transitional Act of the previous regime provided for freedom of religion and this provision has been respected in practice with the reservation that public order and morals are not disturbed. Many people follow traditional beliefs, and a large proportion of the population is Christian, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. Jehovah's Witnesses may have been subject to persecution during the early 1990s but there is no evidence that they or any other religious groups have been persecuted in recent years for practising their faith. [1,5]

5.C.24 The church, particularly the Roman Catholic church, played a prominent role in the struggle for political freedom in the 1990s, as reflected for example in the appointment of Archbishop Monsengwo as head of the CNS, and in organising protest gatherings, such as the March of the Christians in February 1992. [1,8a] Government action by the present regime against the church has also been in response to its involvement in political issues such as the banning in 1998 of the Catholic Radio Amani, and the detention of Pastor Theodor Ngoy for 7 months after criticising Kabila and the government.[5]

Children/Child Soldiers

5.C.25 The regime is reported to have made use of thousands of child soldiers in the AFDL forces which toppled Mobutu.[4b,5] In April 1998 a 13 year old boy soldier was sentenced to death by a military court for shooting dead a Red Cross worker in Kinshasa hours earlier. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by President Kabila. [5] Child soldiers have also been forcibly conscripted into the RCD rebel forces.[4d,5,8e,11c]

5.C.26 Child labour is a common feature in the informal sector. [5,7b] Children are most vulnerable to the problems of the lack of basic public health and education services. [5]


5.C.27 Women are generally relegated to a secondary role in society and are believed to be commonly subject to domestic violence, including rape, although no statistics are available. The significant risk of rape restricts freedom of movement for women in many neighbourhoods. [5] Rape has also been reported in the course of arbitrary detention/torture by the Mobutu and Kabila regimes [12] and by government and RCD rebel forces.[4d,5,8e,11c]


5.C.28 There is no known discrimination against homosexuals.




Mobutu political associate. Head of national electoral commission set up in December 1995 to implement a timetable for elections.[1]

Jean-Pierre BEMBA

Leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). Son of business magnate Bemba Saolona. The Bemba family, which was closely associated with Mobutu before his fall, has wide ranging business interests.[2,16st]


Former UDPS member and adviser to Tshisekedi. Prime minister of "government of national salvation" appointed by Mobutu from March 1993 until the following year in contest with the administration appointed by the HCR and headed by Tshisekedi.[1]


Former legal adviser to Mobutu and first State Commissioner 1990-91. Continued in opposition politics. Joined rebel party RCD and appointed co-ordinator of its executive committee.[1,6]

Joseph ILEO ( or Ileo Nsonga Amba)

Prime minister 1960-61. Leader of PDSC. Vice-president of CNS December 1991. Died in 1995.[1]


Leader of RCD-Goma rebel faction. A long time political activist from Katanga. He has spent much of the last 30 years in exile.[16stxy]

Laurent-Desire KABILA

President of the DRC since May 1997. Leader of AFDL forces which toppled Mobutu in May 1997 after a prolonged military campaign which started in the east of the country. [1] Originates from Katanga. [3b]


Former foreign minister under Kabila. Later external affairs spokesman for the RCD rebel group which sought to overthrow the regime in August 1998. [6] Remains with RCD Goma faction.


Lunda ethnic origin. Minister in Mobutist governments in the 1970s. Sentenced to death in 1977 for alleged treason, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Reinstated to government post in 1979. Leader of FCD in 1982. Leader of UFERI in 1990. First state commissioner on 22 November 1991 under Senegal proposals for new constitutional arrangements. [1]


Appointed ambassador to Belgium by Kabila. She resigned and formed an opposition party in exile in Brussels in June 1998. [16cd]


Appointed first state commissioner by Mobutu in November 1982. and November 1983, for a few months on each occasion, then as prime minister from June 1994, until the last days of Mobutu's presidency. Press reports state he is now head of a government in exile in Belgium.[1, 16a]


Founder member of UDPS and president of USORAL 1994-6. During this period he was involved in a power struggle with Tshisekedi. Appointed Minister of Mines in Kabila government in 1997. [1]


First prime minister after independence. Leader of MNC (Mouvement national Congolais) which favoured the creation of a federal state. In the post-independence secession of Katanga, Lumumba lost control to Kasavubu who was supported by Mobutu. He was murdered in February 1961. The current Lumumbiste party (PALU) support similar federalist views. [1]

Joseph Ruhana MIRINDI

UDPS politician. Leader of reformist wing which took part in the Kengo Wa Dondo administration in 1994. [1]

Joseph-Desire MOBUTU

(Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga after 1972)

Took control of the country in the violent aftermath of independence in 1960. From 1966 to 1990 opposition activity was banned and power was concentrated in Mobutu's hand's and those of his immediate supporters. Eventually, in 1990, amid allegations of corruption, extravagance and human rights abuse, Mobutu announced a return to pluralist politics and promised elections and a constitutional referendum, which never took place. In August 1996 Mobutu left the country for 4 months for cancer treatment. During his absence the AFDL rebels led by Kabila extended the revolt which had arisen from ethnic tensions in the east and eventually took control of the whole country in May 1997. Mobutu and his family left for Morocco where he died in September 1997.[1]


Former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kisangani. President of CNS November 1991, and its successor, the HCR, from December 1992.[1]


Leader of FONUS political party. Detained in January 1998 on unspecified charges, he was later sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by the Military Court for violating the ban on political activity. [2,5] He was released in June 1999. [16p]

Jean-Pierre ONDEKANE

Military commander of rebel RCD forces.[6]

Etienne TSHISEKEDI Wa Mulumba

UDPS founder member and leader. During the 1990s he was at the centre of the political activity following Mobutu's 1990 announcement of a return to a multi-party state, often in conflict with other leading figures, including Mobutu, and with members of his own party. In April 1996 divisions with Kibassa-Maliba led to a power struggle for control of the party. During the last days of the Mobutu regime Tshisekedi continued to be excluded from the government, although he again held the premiership briefly in April 1997. In early 1997 his faction of the UDPS declared its support for the AFDL takeover. However, after they came to power, he refused to recognise the new regime, and was not offered a post in the new government. In February 1998 he was arrested on the grounds that he had violated the ban on public political activity, and sent to live in internal exile in his home village for 5 months. In October 1998 he was prevented from travelling to Brussels to address the European Parliament. [1,2,5]


Chairman of rebel RCD party from the start of the rebellion in August 1998. Previously (from 1968 a Professor of History at Dar-es salaam University. He was later ousted by the Goma based faction led by Emile Ilunga and now heads the RCD Kisangani faction. [6, 16swxy]


Political opponent of Mobutu and Kabila under Forces du Futur party. In May 1998 he was found guilty by a military tribunal of violating the ban on public political activity and given a one year suspended sentence. He then emerged as a leader of the rebel RCD group, but left in January 1999 after a disagreement.[5,6,16f]



1885 Congo Free State established under the sovereignty of King Leopold of Belgium. [1]

1908 Following reports of exploitation and abuses the Belgian Parliament voted to annex the territory, which was then renamed the Belgian Congo. [1]

1959 The Belgian Government announced a timetable leading to independence. [1]

1960 Republic of the Congo was proclaimed under President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba. Political and military disagreements ensued and the eastern provinces of Katanga and South Kasai resolved to secede. Later that year, Col Mobutu, as Army Chief of Staff, suspended political institutions and assumed control of the country. Kasavubu was allowed to remain as President. Lumumba was murdered in 1961. [1]

1964 Rebellions in the Kwilu region, and in the South Kivu and northern Katanga provinces were eventually defeated with the help of Belgian troops. The political leader of the eastern separatists, Moise Tshombe, became prime minister pending legislative elections, and the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [1]

1965 Mobutu again intervened, following the political deadlock which ensued from elections. He assumed full executive powers and declared himself the President of the "Second Republic". The legislature was suspended and a five year ban on party politics was imposed. During this period power was progressively concentrated in the office of the President. By 1970 no senior politicians remained as potential rivals to Mobutu, the main candidates having been either ignored, or appointed to overseas diplomatic posts, subsequently accused of plotting against the President, and dismissed or arrested. [1]

1970 Presidential and legislative elections were held. Mobutu, as sole candidate, was elected President, and members of a national legislative council were elected from a list of candidates presented by Mobutu's political party, the Mouvement populaire de la revolution (MPR). The government, legislature and judiciary became institutions of the MPR and all citizens automatically became party members. In 1971 the country was renamed the Republic of Zaire as part of the campaign for authenticity. [1]

1975 National economic difficulties became a major problem, exacerbated by the high level of the regime's extravagance and corruption and the collapse of copper prices in 1977. [1]

1977 An invasion of Shaba (formerly Katanga) province by former Katangese rebels from Angola was repulsed with assistance from France and Morocco (the First Shaba War).

Mobutu created the post of first state commissioner (equivalent to prime minister) and announced a legislative election for 1980. He was then re-elected unopposed for a further term of office. [1]

The commissioner for foreign affairs, Nguza Karl-I-Bond, was dismissed and sentenced to death for alleged treason, later commuted to life imprisonment. [1]

1978 The military establishment was purged when a number of senior officers and civilians were executed after the alleged discovery of a coup plot. [1]

The "Second Shaba War" occurred when several thousand men, originally from Angola, invaded Shaba from Zambia in May. French paratroopers assisted Zairian forces to recapture Kolwezi, a major mining centre. In June a Pan-African peace-keeping force was sent to Shaba and remained there for more than a year. [1]

1980 The economic crisis worsened, despite massive IMF loans and aid from various Western countries. [1]

1982/3 Internal opposition groups became active, notably the UDPS, led by Etienne Tshisekedi, which was then banned, and the FCD coalition, headed by Karl-I-Bond. A substantial political opposition movement in Belgium was also formed. In response to a highly critical Amnesty International report Mobutu offered an amnesty to political exiles. [1]

1984 Mobutu was again re-elected without opposition and continued with political and financial policies to reinforce his personal position. Two UDPS members were imprisoned for insulting the head of state. [1]

1986 A further Amnesty International report condemned human rights abuses, and the illegal arrest, torture and murder of UDPS supporters. [1]

1987 Results of regional and municipal elections were annulled due to alleged electoral malpractice. External opposition continued and several UDPS members, including Tshisekedi, returned to Zaire under amnesty terms. Some UDPS members were appointed to government posts. [1]

1988 Tshisekedi was arrested twice for political activities and announced his withdrawal from politics later that year. [1]

1989 Thirty seven people were killed in student demonstrations in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Tshisekedi was placed under house arrest. [1]

1990 Further demonstrations took place in February and April in Kinshasa and other towns. In early May between fifty and one hundred and fifty (according to different reports) were massacred at Lubumbashi University by members of the presidential guard acting on Mobutu's orders. Strong international condemnation followed and Mobutu announced an internal enquiry, although he refused to permit an international investigation. A PALU demonstration was attacked by security forces and 25 participants detained for over a month. [1,8b]

Mobutu announced various political changes, including the inauguration of the Third Republic, and a transitional government, although he retained his hold on power. Legislation permitting the operation of political parties and free trade unions was enacted, and a special commission to draft a new constitution by April 1991 was announced. Tshisekedi was released from house arrest. [1]

In November, following renewed allegations of human rights abuses, and speculation that for many years Mobutu had been misappropriating foreign aid, the USA terminated economic and military aid. [1]

Popular unrest again emerged later in the year: in November an anti-government rally in Kinshasa, organised by the UDPS, was violently suppressed. In December UDPS supporters of Kibassa Maliba were attacked in Lubumbashi. The home of the PDSC leader, Joseph Ileo, was ransacked. In the following months anti-government demonstrations took place in Kinshasa and Matadi. [1,8b]

1991 The announcement of a timetable for the restoration of multi party politics led to the proliferation of political parties, notably, UFERI, led by Karl-I-Bond, and the PDSC, which united with the UDPS, to form a coalition, the USOR. [1]

In April, Mobutu announced a national conference to discuss the drafting of a new constitution, which would be subjected to a national referendum. Widespread anti-government demonstrations followed and forty two people were killed, and many others wounded, when security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Mbuji-Mayi, in central Zaire. [1,8b]

In September political demonstrations developed into widespread disorder reflecting frustration with the national conference and economic hardship caused by massive inflation and corruption. French and Belgian troops were sent to suppress the rioting. [1]

In October, following pressure from France, Belgium and the USA in the wake of the riots, the "government of crisis" was formed, headed at first by Tshisekedi, then by Mungal Diaka, leader of the Rassamblement democratique pour la Republique (RDR). When this failed to gain both internal and external acceptance a new government led by Karl-I-Bond was appointed. The national conference resumed in December, only to be suspended by Mobutu in January 1992. [1,8b]

1992 Violence intensified as a response to the suspension of the conference. On 16 February over 30 people were killed by security forces in Kinshasa, the "March of the Christians". [1,8b]

Under pressure at home and abroad, Mobutu reconvened the national conference in April which then became the sovereign national conference (CNS), with power to take legislative and executive decisions, with Mobutu remaining as head of state. The CNS was to prepare a draft constitution for a referendum, and a timetable for legislative and presidential elections. Disagreements between Mobutu and the CNS soon arose over its powers. [1,8b]

In August the CNS appointed Tshisekedi as transitional first state commissioner, who also clashed with Mobutu. [1]

On 6 December the CNS dissolved itself and was succeeded by a 453-member high council of the republic (HCR), which again clashed with Mobutu over its stated intention to consider a report on allegations of corruption, and in its declaration of Tshisekedi as head of government. [1]

1993 In January the HCR declared Mobutu to be guilty of treason and threatened impeachment proceedings unless he recognised the transitional government. Civil disorder again broke out in a brief general strike and campaign of civil disobedience organised by the USOR which resulted in five deaths. Army units also rioted in protest at an attempt by Mobutu to pay them with discredited zaire banknotes. Sixty five people were killed and French and Belgian troops were required to restore order. [1]

In March Mobutu convened a "conclave" of political forces to debate the country's future, which appointed Faustin Birindwa, ex-UDPS, as prime minister, in a rival government to that of Tshisekedi and the HCR. Instability and political stalemate ensued in the following months, despite the attempted mediation of a UN envoy. In September an agreement reached between Mobutu representatives and opposition groups over arrangements for a transitional period failed to finalise over the HCR insistence that Tshisekedi should continue as prime minister. [1]

1994 In January an agreement was reached to form a government of national reconciliation. Mobutu then announced the dissolution of the HCR, the dismissal of the Birindwa government, and a contest for the premiership between Tshisekedi and Molomba Lokoji, to be decided by a transitional legislature - the HCR-PT - which convened and immediately rejected Mobutu's proposal for the selection of a new prime minister. [1]

In the following months a number of inconclusive political moves occurred but by July a new administration had been established under Leon Kengo Wa Dondo, which sought to introduce a measure of stability. In October an expanded opposition grouping - USURAL - resumed participation in the HCR-PT, and in November a reformist wing of the UDPS, led by Joseph Ruhana Mirindi, agreed to join the government. [1]

Meanwhile, the country's economic difficulties had been compounded in September by the circulation of some 30 tons of counterfeit Zaire currency. Austerity measures were announced but by December the country's financial reserves were virtually exhausted. [1]

1995 The Kengo Wa Dondo government continued despite opposition frustration at the failure to finalise a timetable for elections. In July, at an anti-government rally organised by PALU clashes with the security forces resulted in the deaths of nine civilians and one police officer. A further anti-government demonstration in Kinshasa in August organised by USORAL, which passed off peacefully, was attended by an estimated 5000 Tshisekedi supporters. [1]

1996 In April it was announced that multi-party presidential and legislative elections would take place in May 1997, and regional and municipal elections in June and July of that year, to be preceded by a referendum on a new constitution in December 1996, later put back to February 1997. [1]

In August Mobutu left the country for treatment in Switzerland of a serious form of cancer. The hiatus created by his absence and ill health proved to be a decisive factor in bringing his rule to an end as the Kengo Wa Dondo government proved unable to deal with the outcome of the rapidly escalating situation in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. Rwandan Hutu militia who had taken refuge there in 1994 began to try to carve out an area for themselves with the support of local Hutus, and members of the Zaire armed forces (FAZ), killing and expelling local Tutsis and other ethnic groups. The situation was affected by longstanding ethnic friction in the area (see Ethnic Issues). In October Tutsis in South Kivu (Banyamulenge) were ordered to leave the area provoking a backlash in which combined Tutsi forces supported by Rwandan armed forces made rapid advances against the Hutus and FAZ. What appeared at first to be a regional movement soon gathered momentum and emerged as a national rebellion aiming to overthrow the Mobutu regime. The rebels were joined by dissidents of diverse ethnic origin to form the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL), led by Laurent-Desire Kabila, a former Lumumba aide and opponent of the Mobutu regime since the 1960s. Despite attempts by the government to control the situation the rebel forces continued to make progress in taking over a large area of the east, including the towns of Goma and Bukavu, by the end of the year. [1]

1997 In January, following Mobutu's return from abroad and the formation of a crisis government in Kinshasa, a counter-offensive by Zaire troops failed to make any significant gains and the AFDL forces continued to advance, taking the second city, Lubumbashi, by April. Attempts at mediation between the two sides failed, and with control of all the country's main resources Kabila was in a commanding position. [1]

On 8 April Mobutu declared a state of emergency, dismissed the government headed by Tshisekedi, who had replaced Kengo Wa Dondo a few days previously, and appointed General Likulia Bolongo as prime minister. Following inconclusive peace talks with Kabila mediated by the South African president, Nelson Mandela, Mobutu refused to submit to international pressure and the realities of the situation and resign. However on 16 May he left Zaire, having accepted a proposal to transfer interim power to the speaker of the HCR-PT, Monsignor Monsengwo Pasinya. He took refuge with his family and entourage in Morocco, where his health continued to deteriorate and where he died in September. [1]

On 17 May AFDL troops entered Kinshasa and Kabila declared himself president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He announced that there would be presidential and parliamentary elections in April 1999, and a programme of national regeneration would be pursued meanwhile. Kabila also issued a constitutional decree to remain in force until the adoption of a new constitution which allows him legislative and executive power and control over the armed forces and treasury. Of the previously existing institutions, only the judiciary was not disbanded. A government was formed which, while dominated by AFDL members, also included UDPS and other party members. [1]

In June a number of senior officials from the Mobutu period were arrested. The UDPS leader, Tshisekedi, was detained overnight after addressing a student meeting. [2]

In July a protest march against the ban on political activity resulted in three civilian deaths following clashes with troops. The government blocked efforts by UN investigators to enquire into allegations of massacres by AFDL troops in eastern DRC, but subsequently allowed them to resume in November. [2]

In August a military court was established by decree. [2]

In October the President appointed a 42-member Constitutional Commission (originally due to be appointed in June) to draft a new constitution by March 1998. [2]

In November Kabila reaffirmed the ban on public political activity until the holding of presidential and legislative elections in 1999. Clashes between rival army factions took place at the end of the month. It was apparent that Kabila had yet to gain control over the eastern provinces where ethnic violence continued between the Tutsi and Bantu groups. [2]

1998 In February Tshisekedi was arrested and banished to his native village allegedly because of his continued involvement in subversive part political activity in defiance of the ban imposed in May 1997. He was freed in July and returned to Kinshasa. It was reported that government control had been restored in the east, however, clashes reportedly continued and a statement issued by the citizens of Kivu province expressed indignation at the arrest of traditional chiefs and university lecturers. [5]

A government in exile was formed in Brussels headed by Leon Kengo wa Dondo. [16a]

In April the government banned the country's main human rights group AZADHO and took action against other groups. The draft constitution was submitted to the President. The draft was accompanied by a list of 250 names of people who would not be allowed to stand for office which was later disowned. [5,10]

In May a decree provided for the establishment of a 300-member constituent and legislative assembly to carry out a number of functions, including the preparation of a draft constitutional bill. Restrictions of previous good character and associations with the Mobutu regime were placed on membership.[5]

In June the UN report into allegations of massacres by AFDL forces during the rebellion which brought Kabila to power, concluded that large numbers of Hutu refugees had been massacred an a possible attempt at genocide had occurred. [4c]

In August reports were received of an organised rebellion from the east of the country which was aiming to topple the regime. The rebels, calling themselves the Rassemblement Congolais pour la democratie (RCD), were assisted by Rwanda and Uganda who were angered by Kabila's failure to contain attacks on their territory by insurgents based in eastern DRC. The rebels captured a number of eastern towns and made a flight to the west to take other assets, including the country's only port, Matadi, and the Inga hydroelectric dam, which were vital to Kinshasa. They reached the outskirts of Kinshasa by late August but then received a number of military setbacks from government forces who were by then being aided by Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, and subsequently by Chad.[2]

The rebels continued to make progress in the east and captured more than one-third of the country by the end of the year. [5,13]

In October another rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) joined the fighting in northern DRC. [2,4d]

Later in the year and in early 1999, reports of mass movements of refugees displaced by the war, and of atrocities committed by both sides, were issued. [4cd,8e,11cd] Kinshasa remained generally calm, although suffering the economic effects of the war. The security situation in government areas outside Kinshasa was dependent on the attitude and ability of the local police or army commander.[13} Diplomatic efforts to end the fighting were inconclusive. [2]

1999 In January government decrees lifted the ban on public political activity and announced arrangements for registering new political parties. These were widely criticised for being too restrictive. [2,16ghijklmno]

In March the government called for a national debate on the political future of the country as a prelude to elections which were to be postponed from the promised date of April 1999. [16k] In April the dissolution of the AFDL party and the creation of People's Power Committees was announced. [16no]

In June the FONUS leader Joseph Olenghankoy and two senior UDPS officials were freed from prison. They had been sentenced by the military court for activities opposing the regime. [16p]

In July the government allowed groups of Tutsis who had been interned since the start of the rebellion to leave for Rwanda. [16q] A peace accord was signed in Lusaka by the governments of the DRC and other countries involved on 10 July and by the MLC rebel group on 1 August. However the RCD factions stayed outside the deal. [16s]

On 31 August 1999 the RCD also signed the peace deal. Attention turned to the next steps of setting up arrangements to monitor the ceasefire and to hold a national debate about restoring central administration and to pave the way for elections. [16txy]

In August/September the UN Special Rapporteure visited the country. He expressed concern at human rights issues on both the government and rebel sides and made recommendations. [16z]



AFDL Alliance des forces democratiques pour la liberation du Congo-Zaire (also referred to as ADFL). Ruling party of President Kabila on coming to power. Mainly Tutsi and comprising 4 political parties, all from eastern DRC: PRP (Popular Revolution Party), founded by Kabila in 1967; PDA (Peoples Democratic Alliance led by AFDL Secretary-General, General Bugera, and comprising largely Congolese Tutsis, the Banyamulenge; RMLZ (Revolutionary Movement for the Liberalisation of Zaire) led by Masusu Nindaga, mainly supported by the Bashi in the Bukavu area; and, NCRD (National Council for resistance for Democracy) led by the late Andre Kisase Ngandu, supported by the Luba tribe. AFDL military elements are alleged to have committed massacres of Hutus in 1995/6 which are being investigated by UNHCR. [1] The party was dissolved in April 1999. [16n]

ANR National Information Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements). Civil militia set up by Kabila to replace SNIP. [1]

ASADHO Formerly AZADHO. Human rights group banned by Kabila in April 1998. [3b,9]

Authenticity Process in early 1970s whereby cities, provinces etc were given local titles, eg the country was renamed Zaire, Katanga was renamed Shaba, and foreign companies were appropriated.[1]

Banyamulenge Congolese Tutsis (of Rwandese origin). Long term residents in South Kivu. Formed the basis of the AFDL group which brought Kabila to power [1] but now compromised by association with Rwandan opposition to the Kabila regime.

Banyarwanda People of Rwandese origin, either Hutu, Tutsi or Twa. Those in DRC living mainly in North Kivu but without equal nationality and land ownership rights, a situation which led to violent ethnic conflicts, especially after the influx of Rwandese Hutu refugees in 1994, when thousands were massacred.[1]

Circo This is the abbreviation for military district of Kinshasa, an official place of detention, where torture was alleged to be carried out by agencies of the Mobutu and Kabila regimes. [12]

CNS (1) National Sovereign Conference (Conference nationale souveraine). Group comprising representatives of political parties, civil society and the regions which was convened first by Mobutu in 1991 to consider drafting new constitution, then reinstated in April 1992 when it declared itself sovereign with the power to take legislative and executive decisions. Dissolved itself in December 1992 and succeeded by HCR.[1]

CNS (2) Nationality Centre. Security agency of the Kabila regime. [9]

DEMIAP Military Detection of Anti-Patriotic Activists. Security agency of the Kabila regime. [9]

DESN Investigation and National Security directorship. Security agency of the Kabila regime. [9]

DSP Special Presidential Division. Mobutu's security force, controlled by loyalist generals.[3c,12]

FAR Rwandan armed forces (Forces Armee Rwandaise) Former Rwandan Hutu army prior to the 1994 genocide. They fled to DRC when the RPF took power. [8c]

FAZ Zaire armed forces under Mobutu. [1]

FCD Front congolais pour la retablissement de la democracie. Opposition coalition group formed in 1982 and led by Karl-I-Bond. [1]

FDC Front democratique congolais. 1960s opposition bloc whose leader, Evariste Kimba, was briefly prime minister in 1964. [1]

FONUS Innovative Forces for the Sacred Union (Forces Novatrice pour l'Union Sacree). Opposition party grouping. The chairman, Joseph Olenghankoy has been detained on several occasions under both the previous and former regimes. In May 1998 Olenghankoy and others were sentenced to terms of imprisonment by a military court. [3(b),5] Olenghankoy was released in June 1999 [16p]

FPC Forces politiques du conclave. Pro-Mobutu political grouping in 1993 conflict between Mobutu's appointed conclave and the HCR. [1]

Gecamines Generale des Carrieres et des Mines. State-owned mining corporation sold to a Swiss company SWIPCO in 1995.[1]

HCR High Council of the Republic. Multi-party interim executive and legislative body formed in 1992 under the chairmanship of Archbishop Monsengwo, empowered to adopt a new constitution and organise elections, also to examine corruption allegations. [1]

HCR-PT Succeeded HCR in 1994 (haut conseil de la republique-parlement de transition). Despite internal dissension and clashes over government and constitutional issues, continued until Mobutu lost power.[1]

ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross [4d]

Interhamwe Rwandese Hutu militia groups who lived in refugee camps in Kivu. Responsible for most of the massacres which took place in Rwanda during the genocide and involved in the ethnic clashes in Kivu. Controlled many of the refugee camps in the Kivus. Dispersed with the camps but many groups still in eastern DRC and opposing Rwanda military involvement in the country. [8d]

Mai-Mai Militia based in North Kivu, drawing support from local tribes and opposed to Rwandan occupation. [8c]

MLC Mouvement de Liberation du Congo. Rebel group which emerged in late 1998 in northern DRC. Operating in Equateur province with Ugandan backing. [4d,11d,16sy]

MPR Mouvement populaire de la revolution. Founded in 1996 by Mobutu and the only authorised party until 1990. During this period the government, legislature and judiciary all became MPR institutions and all citizens automatically became party members.[1]

OBMA Office of Ill-Gotten Gains (Office des Biens Mal Acquis). Kabila agency charged with seizing assets supposedly belonging to the state. [3b]

PALU Parti lumumbiste unifie. Political party named after the late prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, which supports his federalist policies. [3b]

PDSC Parti democrate et social chretien. one the main opposition parties set up when pluralism was allowed in 1990. Part of the USOR group. [3b]

PF/FP Patriotic Front. Political party. [3b]

RCD Congolese Democratic Coalition (Rassemblement Congolais Democratique). Political party formed by rebels in August 1998. [5,6,16stxy]

RDR Rassemblement democratique pour la Republique. Opposition political party set up after 1990. Part of the USOR group. Led by Bernardin Mungal Diaka, who was a former close political associate of Mobutu and first state commissioner in the government of crisis in 1991.[1]

RDL Rassamblement des democrates liberaux. Opposition political party linked with UFERI. On 14 January 1992 it claimed that seven of its supporters had been killed in Kasai Oriental, a USOR stronghold, in political clashes.[1]

RPA Rwandan Patriotic Army. Armed forces of Rwanda.[1]

RPF Rwandan Patriotic Front. Tutsi-dominated movement which forced out the Hutu regime in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide.[1]

SARM Service d'action et de renseignements militaires. Mobutist military security agency. [3c,12]

SNIP Service national d'intelligence et de protection. Mobutist civilian security agency. [3c,12]

UDPS Union pour la democratie et le progres social. Opposition party founded in 1982. In 1991 UDPS was a main participant in setting up the USOR. In 1994 four members, including Joseph Mirindi, accepted government posts, while other members continued to participate in the HCR-PT under the USORAL grouping.

In April 1996 internal tensions led to divisions between Tshisekedi and the USORAL leaders. UDPS members were included in the crisis government formed by Mobutu in November 1996 in response to the AFDL offensive, and Tshisekedi was prime minister for a few days in April 1997, but after the coup Tshisekedi's faction declared its support for the AFDL. On 14 and 15 April the UDPS organised a two day anti-government general strike which was widely observed. The government formed by Kabila on taking power also includes UDPS members, although Tshisekedi was not offered a cabinet post and refused to recognise the new government. [1,3b,5]

UFERI Union des federalists et republicains independants. Opposition political party formed after 1990 led by Nguza Karl-I-Bond. Leading participant in the USOR in 1991. Instrumental in setting up a new political coalition in late 1991, the Alliance of Patriotic Forces, grouping thirty parties opposed to political extremist measures in obtaining political reform. Favoured greater regional autonomy, including tacit support for the 1993 attempt by Shaba to separate from the rest of the country. [1,3b]

UNTC Union nationale des travailleurs congolais. Main trade union organisation formed in 1967. Organised several general strikes, notably a three day one in February 1991.[1]

URD Union pour la republique et la democratie. Opposition party, expelled from USOR in May 1994, whose members held several posts in the transitional government at that time.[1]

USOR Union sacree de l'opposition radicale. A political opposition grouping set up in July 1991, and comprising some 130 parties, notably PDSC, UDPS and UFERI. Participated in national conference which led to HCR and HCR-PT. Largely excluded from 1991 government. At a demonstration organised by USOR and christian churches on 16 February 1992 in Kinshasa over thirty people were killed (March of the Christians). Internal tensions frustrated attempts to form a united opposition to Mobutu in the early 1990s and an expanded grouping (USORAL) was then formed. [1,3b]

USORAL Union sacree de l'opposition radicale at ses allies. Set up in 1994 as an expanded successor to USOR and resumed participation in the HCR-PT in October of that year. Organised anti-government protest in August 1995 in Kinshasa. Despite various internal tensions USORAL continued to take part in the HCR-PT. [1,3b]





[3] UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES. Centre for Documentation on Refugees:

a. Background Paper On Zairean Refugees and Asylum Seekers March 1995

b. Background Paper On Refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo April 1998

c. Guidelines for Refugees and Asylum Seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo January 1998


a. Situation of Human Rights in Zaire (E/CN.4/1996/66) 29 January 1996

b. Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo E/CN.4/1998/65 30 January 1998

c. Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (A/53/365) 10 September 1998

d. Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (E/CN.4/1999/31) 8 February 1999


[6] THE CONGOLESE REBELS New Africa October 1998


a. Review of the Problems of Zairian Asylum Seekers Deported from the West. 1995

b. Human Rights Situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. AnnuaL REPORT 1998


a. Zaire: Two Years Without Transition July 1992

b. Prison Conditions in Zaire December 1993

c What Kabila is Hiding Civilian Killings and Impunity in Congo October 1997

d. Uncertain Course: Transition and Human Rights Violations in the Congo December 1997

e, Casualties of War: Civilians, Rule of Law and Democratic Freedom February 1999




a A Year of Dashed Hopes 15 May 1998

b. A Long Standing Crisis Spinninmg Out of Control 3 September 1998

c War Against Unarmed Civilians 23 November 1998

d. International Report 1999 (extract)

[12] ZAIRE: A TORTURE STATE: Medical Foundation Report June 1998



a. 16 May 1997

b. 20 May 1998

[15] HOME OFFICE Letter dated 19 MAY 1999


a. LA REFERENCE, Kinshasa: DRC: Paper says former dignitaries form cabinet-in-exile, BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts (Reuters), 8 February 1998.

b. LA LIBRE BELGIQUE, Brussels: DRC: Opposition parties meet in Brussels, urge people to "rise up", BBC Monitoring Service (Reuters), 3 July 1998.

c. RTBF RADIO 1 Brussels: DRC: Sacked Brussels Ambassador accuses government of plot against Tshisekedi, BBC Monitoring Service (Reuters), 19 June 1998.

d. LA LIBRE BELGIQUE, Brussels: DRC: Former Ambassador founds party in Brussels, BBC Monitoring Service (Reuters), 6 July 1998.

  1. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: UN says 235000 displaced in Congo, Reuters 22 January 1999.

f. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Congo rebel leader quits main group, Reuters 27 January 1999.

g. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Kabila sets out rules for Congo political parties, Reuters 31 January 1999.

h. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Kabila decrees rules for political meetings, Reuters 2 February 1999.

i. RADIO-TELEVISION NATIONALE CONGOLAISE, Kinshasa: Kabila signs decree regulating gatherings, BBC Monitoring Service, 5 February 1999.

j. IPS NEWSFEED, Kinshasa: DRC: Kabila's decision to ban existing parties criticised, Global Information Network (Reuters) 5 February 1999.

k. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Kabila government targets national debate, Reuters 26 March 1999.

l. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC:Congo's Kabila gives up his vision of democracy, Reuters 20 April 1999.

m. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Kabila hails role of new peoples committees, Reuters 23 April 1999.

n. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Kabila minister urges new-style political parties, Reuters 24 April 1999.

o. RTNC TV, Kinshasa: DRC: Kabila outlines aims of people power committees, national debate, BBC Monitoring Service (Reuters) 24 April 1999.

p. IPS NEWSFEED, Kinshasa: DRC: In conciliatory move, Kabila frees political opponents, Global Information Network (Reuters) 23 June 1999.

q. IPS NEWSFEED, Kinshasa: DRC: Campaign launched to rid Congo of ethnic Tutsis, Global Information Network (Reuters) 13 July 1999.

r. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: DR Congo bans foreign radio/TV news broadcasts, Reuters 29 July 1999.

s. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: South Africa- Analysis-Congo rebels sign deal but no peace yet, Reuters 1 August 1999.

t. THE GUARDIAN: Mistrust casts pall on Congo signing, 31 August 1999.

u. IPS NEWSFEED, Kinshasa: DRC: Watchdog groups demand abolition of military court, Global Information Network (Reuters) 1 September 1999.

v. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Former Mobutu associates arrested in Kinshasa, Reuters 1 September 1999.

w. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: DRC: Tutsis leave Congo on US-funded flights, Reuters 1 September 1999.

x. THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Congo rebel leaders sign accord but rifts remain, 1 September 1999.

y. THE INDEPENDENT: Squabbling breaks out as ink dries on Congo peace accord, 2 September 1999.

z. RADIO-TELEVISION NATIONALE CONGOLAISE, Kinshasa: DRC: UN Human Rights envoy ends visit, makes recommendations, BBC Monitoring Service 9 September 1999.

Country Information & Policy Unit


Democratic Republic of Congo Bulletin 5/99 19 May 1999


Distribution List

Email Copies Hard Copies

Rita Sudra ICD MU Rita Sudra ICD MU

(for ICD Distribution) (for ICD Distribution)

Alan Gammons AAG

Kate Massie ALU Presenting Officers Units:

Aidan Kiely EPU Grant Richmond Angel Square

Mike Thompson CEU Angela Oxlade Feltham Green

Jane Jeffrey, Keith Lambert Laurie Hacker Leeds

POU Angel Square Helen Swindells Birmingham

Colette McAllister SSCU Peter Horne Manchester

Ian Taylor TCU John Renwick Glasgow

Frances Ackland CIPU


From: Lorna Brown

Country Information & Policy Unit

Asylum & Appeals Policy Directorate

7th Floor Block A Whitgift Centre

Wellesley Road Croydon CR9 3LY

Tel: 0181 760 3433 )

Fax: 0181 760 3128 ) GTN 3822






The information in this Bulletin is disclosable


1. Resumption of Asylum Casework

1.1 Ministers have agreed that consideration of asylum applications from nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the return of rejected asylum seekers to the country should be resumed. Interested human rights groups and legal bodies are being informed, including members of the IND After Entry Users Panel, UNHCR and the Independent Appellate Authority. A copy of the letter sent to these groups is at Annex A.

1.2 Guidelines for caseworkers and presenting officers to follow when dealing with DRC cases are at Annex B. We have consulted the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and UNHCR about these. Please contact me for any further country information and advice.

2. A further bulletin updating the country situation since the last country assessment and bulletin will be issued separately.


Country Information & Policy Unit

Asylum & Appeals Policy Directorate

Block A Whitgift Centre, Croydon, CR9 3LY

( Tel 0181 760 3433

( Fax



Your ref:

Our ref: IMG 98 72/263/1

Date: 19 May 1999



RE: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Asylum

As you will be aware, an armed rebellion began in the DRC last August and at that time we temporarily suspended the consideration of asylum applications from DRC nationals and the return of rejected applicants. The consideration of appeals before the Independent Appellate Authority has not been affected.

Although it seemed at first that there was a possibility that the rebels would oust the regime of President Kabila, this has not happened and, while fighting continues in the east of the country, the capital, Kinshasa, and the west remain under government control. International airline services have been operating for some months to Kinshasa.

We have been monitoring the situation in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UNHCR and have information from a variety of other sources, such as media and human rights reports. The information and advice received now enables us to make an informed decision about asylum applications from nationals of the DRC in accordance with our international obligations. Consideration of applications and returns will recommence with immediate effect. As regards those whose applications have been rejected and who also have a subsequent appeal refused by an independent adjudicator, we will continue to carry out a careful review of the individual circumstances in each case of any compassionate or humanitarian factors, including the grant of exceptional leave. This review will include the aspect of safety of return. It will be recognised that there are people who should not be expected to return to the country at present. All returns would be to Kinshasa and no one will be expected to return to rebel-held areas.

Yours faithfully


Lorna Brown (Mrs)

Keith Best

Immigration Advisory Service

County House

190 Great Dover St

London SE1 4YB


Chris Daly

Refugee Legal Centre

Sussex House

39 - 45 Bermondsey St

London SE1 3XF


Claud Moraes

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

115 Old St

London EC1V 9JR


William Trant

West Indian Standing Conference

5 Westminster Bridge Rd

London SE1 7XW


Nick Hardwick

The Refugee Council

3 Bondsway

London SW8 1SJ


Hope Hanlon


21st Floor Millbank Tower

21 - 24 Millbank

London SW14QP


Mahmud Quayum

The Law Centre Federation

Camden Community Law Centre

2 Prince of Wales Rd

London NW5 3LG


Maria Fernandes

The National Organisation of Asian Businesses

31 Snaresbrook Drive


Mddx HA7 4QN


Julia Onslow-Cole

The International Bar Association Migration and Nationality Committee

271 Regent St

London W1R 7PA


Kate Handforth


9 - 17 St Albans Place

London N1 0NX


Sherman Carroll

Director of Public Affairs

The Medical Foundation

96 - 98 Grafton Rd

London NW5 3EJ


Alasdair Mackenzie

Asylum Aid

244a Upper St


London N1 1RU


Karen Mackay

Head of Legal Aid Policy

The Law Society

113 Chancery Lane

London WC2 1PL


Susan Rowlands

Immigration Law Practitioners Association

Lindsey House

40 - 42 Charterhouse St

London EC1M 6JH


Zelah Senior


59 Carter Lane

London EC4V 5AQ


Barbara Cohen

Commission for Racial Equality

Elliot House

10 - 12 Allington St

London SW1E 5EH


Sean Roberts

National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux

Myddleton House

115 - 123 Pentonville Rd

London N1


J. Balloch

Scottish Refugee Council

98 West George St

Glasgow G2 1PJ


The Chief Adjudicator

Immigration Appellate Authority

Taylor House

88 Rosebery Avenue

London E1R 4QU

The President

Immigration Appeals Tribunal

Immigration Appellate Authority

Taylor House

88 Rosebery Avenue

London E1R 4QU




Guidelines to caseworkers May 1999


Initial consideration of claims

¨ Initial consideration of new asylum claims, which were suspended in August 1998 following a rebellion in the east of the country, should be resumed.

¨ There is still a large rebel-held area in the eastern third of the country but the military initiative has slowed down. The west, including Kinshasa, is stable and the regime of President Kabila is secure at present.

¨ Where an appellant is credibly of Tutsi ethnic background the case should be considered for the grant of asylum or exceptional leave. Tutsis were the target of a "hate campaign" by the DRC government in August 1998. Many were arrested, beaten or killed, including individuals suspected of being Tutsis because of their appearance (tall, slim build, aquiline features). Although the campaign has now ceased there is still popular resentment against them in the government controlled areas - the capital, Kinshasa, and the west of the country. Enquiries about other ethnic groups, particularly those which, like Tutsis, are of Rwandese ethnic origin (eg Hutu, Banyumulenge, Twa) may be referred to CIPU.

¨ Information about the DRC, including the human rights situation and specific categories who may be at risk such as prominent human rights activists, journalists and others who are credibly involved in actively promoting a return to democracy in the country, is set out in the Country Assessment and Bulletins issued by the Country Information and Policy Unit (CIPU). Further enquiries can be made to CIPU on 0181 760 3433.

Appeal hearings and reviews

¨ Presenting Officers should refer to the latest country assessment and bulletins produced by CIPU including the human rights situation and specific categories which may be at risk – such as prominent human rights activists, journalists and others who are credibly involved in actively promoting a return to democracy in the country. The UNHCR Guidelines of January 1998 give guidance on groups associated with the previous regime. Enquiries may be made to the CIPU country officer (0181 760 3433) if further guidance or information is needed.

¨ Where an appellant is credibly of Tutsi ethnic background the case should be conceded. It would normally be appropriate to accept an individual is of Tutsi origin if it had been mentioned previously in the claim or if the individual had previously described himself as being of Tutsi origin.


¨ The country situation should be taken into account when considering cases of rejected asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo who have exhausted their legal basis of stay.

¨ The following information should be taken into account when considering whether it is safe to return an individual:

The latest Country Assessment and Bulletins issued by the CIPU should be consulted and enquiry made to CIPU (0181-760-3433) for further information and guidance if necessary.

Returns can only be made to the capital, Kinshasa via its international airport. There is still a war situation in the east of the country. The capital, Kinshasa, and the west of the country are generally stable.

There was a "hate campaign" by the government shortly after the rebellion started in August 1998 against people of Tutsi ethnic origin. Although this campaign has now ceased, there is still popular resentment against such people and it would be unsafe to return them to the country. It would normally be appropriate to accept an individual is of Tutsi origin if it had been mentioned previously in the claim, or if an individual had previously described himself as being of Tutsi origin.

Country Information and Policy Unit