MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in particular those of 10 March 2016(1), 23 June 2016(2), 28 November 2016 and 25 January 2017,

– having regard to the statement of 29 March 2017 of the Spokesperson of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the murder of UN experts in the DRC,

– having regard to the Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/905 of 29 May 2017 implementing Decision 2010/788/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against the DRC(3),

– having regard to the Joint communiqué of 28 March 2017 of the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie on the situation in the Kasaï provinces in the DRC, and to their joint statement of 16 February 2017 on the DRC,

– having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s reports of 10 March 2017 on the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, and on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region,

– having regard to the Council conclusions of 17 October 2016 and 6 March 2017 on the DRC,

– having regard to the UN Security Council (UNSC) press statements on the its concern at the challenges facing the implementation of the 31 December 2016 agreement and stressing the importance of investigations into recent violence in Kasai,

– having regard to the Statement of 1 January 2017 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, on the conclusion of a political agreement in the DRC,

– having regard to the UNSC resolutions on the DRC, in particular resolutions 2348 (2017), which renewed the mandate of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and 2293 (2016) on renewing the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts,

– having regard to the UNSC presidential statement welcoming the signing on 31 December 2016 of a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement on the electoral calendar in the DRC,

– having regard to the midterm report of 28 December 2016 of the UN Group of Experts on the DRC,

– having regard to the Nairobi Declarations of December 2013,

– having regard to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region signed in Addis Ababa in February 2013,

– having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981,

– having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,

– having regard to the Congolese Constitution of 18 February 2006,

– having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

– having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the persistent humanitarian and security crisis in the DRC has already caused the deaths of an estimated 5 million people;

B. whereas the situation continues to deteriorate, in particular in the eastern part of the country, where foreign and domestic armed groups, including the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) continue to commit sporadic massacres of civilians, often on ethnic grounds and in total impunity, as well as abuses of human rights and international law, such as targeted attacks against civilians, widespread sexual and gender-based violence, the systematic recruitment and use of children for military ends, and extrajudicial executions;

C. whereas the Kasai province has seen a major spike in violence since August 2016 between government and militia forces; whereas this has already caused the death of hundreds of people and forced one million people to flee their homes; whereas UN reports have documented massive violations of human rights, including massacres of civilians and the existence of 40 mass graves;

D. whereas President Kabila’s inaction and silence on these atrocities, which are alleged to have been perpetrated both by rebel armed groups and state military forces, is extremely worrisome;

E. whereas women and children are the first victims of the conflict; whereas sexual and gender-based violence, often used as a war tactic, is widespread;

F. whereas 19 December 2016 marked the end of President Kabila’s constitutional mandate; whereas he has been delaying the election and has remained in power, thus aggravating political tension, unrest and violence across the country, and causing the deaths of dozens of people;

G. whereas human rights groups are continuously reporting about the worsening of the human rights situation and of freedom of expression and assembly in the country, including the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and an increase in politically motivated trials;

H. whereas on 31 December 2016, under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CENCO), an inclusive agreement on transition was reached to allow President Kabila to remain in power on the condition that elections are held by the end of 2017 and a Prime Minister is appointed from the opposition coalition; whereas, to date, no progress has been made in the implementation of the agreement and the government has suggested that no elections would be held this year due to financial limitations;

I. whereas both the EU and the US have adopted sanctions against the DRC; whereas in May 2017, the EU extended its sanctions to nine officials and members of the government for having contributed to acts constituting serious human rights violations in the DRC;

J. whereas humanitarian actors estimate that 7.3 million people, of whom 4.4 million are children, are currently in need of assistance and lack basic access to drinking water, sanitation, medical services and education; whereas 5.9 million people are food insecure; whereas the ongoing conflict and military operations have caused significant forced displacements with approximately 2.3 million internally displaced persons and 450 000 people having fled to neighbouring countries;

K. whereas these worrying numbers are expected to increase and the situation will deteriorate furthermore with the continuation of the conflict, especially given the limited access to the people affected;

L. whereas the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported on increasing abductions and attacks on aid workers and convoys, which have forced humanitarian organisations to delay the delivery of aid and suspend their activities; whereas, most recently, two UN investigators were abducted and killed in the Kasai province;

M. whereas EU humanitarian assistance in the DRC amounts to EUR 22.7 million so far in 2017;

N. whereas the 2014-2020 National Indicative Programme for the DRC, with EUR 620 million in funding under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), prioritises strengthening governance and the rule of law, including reforms of the judiciary, police and army;

1. Remains deeply concerned about the current political, security and humanitarian situation in the DRC, which keeps deteriorating; firmly condemns all human rights violations and abuses perpetrated against civilians, such as those involving abduction, killing, torture, rape and other sexual violence; reminds the government of its responsibility to guarantee human rights and protect the civilian population;

2. Calls for a full, thorough and transparent investigation into the massive and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that are taking place across the country and in particular in the Kasai region, in order to identify those responsible and hold them accountable;

3. Reiterates its call for a successful and timely holding of elections, in full accordance with the Congolese Constitution and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and insists on the Congolese Government’s responsibility to guarantee an environment conducive to transparent, credible and inclusive elections by the end of this year;

4. Welcomes the political agreement reached in December 2016 and commends the mediation efforts of the CENCO; expresses concerns, however, at the absence of progress in its implementation, especially by the President and the government; urges, therefore, all political stakeholders to swiftly agree on the practical modalities of the transition period and to accelerate electoral preparations;

5. Insists on the government’s duty to respect, protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens; recalls that freedom of expression, association and assembly is the basis of a dynamic political and democratic life and that any use of force against peaceful demonstration should be prohibited;

6. Welcomes the adoption of the EU targeted sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations and for undermining the democratic process in the DRC, including travel bans and asset freezes, and calls for their extension if necessary;

7. Calls on the EU Delegation to continue to closely monitor developments in the DRC and to use all appropriate tools and instruments to support human rights defenders and pro-democracy movements;

8. Recalls that peace and security are preconditions for a successful election and a stable political environment; welcomes, in this regard, the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate and the strengthening of its powers to protect civilians and uphold human rights in the electoral context;

9. Reiterates its full support for the work of the Special Representative of the UN’s Secretary-General to the DRC, as well as the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC;

10. Stresses that the situation in the DRC poses a serious threat to the stability of the Central African region as a whole; reiterates its support for the African Union (AU) as a facilitator in the DRC political dialogue; highlights the crucial role of the AU in preventing a political crisis in the region and calls for an intensification of its commitment to seeking full compliance with the Congolese Constitution; calls on the AU and the EU to ensure a permanent political dialogue between countries of the Great Lakes region to prevent any further destabilisation;

11. Regrets the very little progress made in the implementation of the Framework Agreement and calls on all parties to actively contribute to stabilisation efforts; considers, in this regard, that the EU’s support should focus further on democracy and state-building, including deepening the reforms in the security sector and of public institutions;

12. Reiterates its deep concern about the alarming humanitarian situation in the DRC; calls for the EU and its Member States to continue their assistance to the people of the DRC with a view to improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations and tackling the consequences of displacement, food insecurity, epidemics and natural disasters;

13. Condemns all attacks conducted on humanitarian personnel and facilities;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, the President, Prime Minister and Parliament of the DRC, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council, and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.