Britain suspends Congo police aide on false, politically motivated allegations

Guy Momat

The Congolese Minister of the Interior, Security, Decentralization, and Customary Affairs, Richard Muyej Mangez, has noticed the Department for International Development (DfID) over its decision to stop funding the “Security Sector Accountability and Police Reform Programme”.

This decision came after the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, UNJHRO, report in October said at least nine people had been summarily executed and 32 forcefully "disappeared" during a crackdown on gangs,   operation “LIKOFI’’ in the capital Kinshasa.

However, In the press release published on December 29, 2014,  the Congolese interior Minister, Richard Muyej,   argues that the decision had been made on the basis of "false, politically-motivated allegations" in the UNJHRO and Human Rights Watch reports, which are based on claims by Congo political figures within the most radical opposition.

Few months ago, before even the publication of the UN report, some sources at the UK Embassy in Kinshasa-DRC claimed that the foreign Office back in Uk, was putting pressure on them, to found how to “punish” Congolese authorities.

A source at the interior Ministry, the equivalent of Home Office, did confirm the information. Speaking under anonymity   , one staff says “At several occasions, the UK Ambassador in Kinshasa was asking   the Minister to end the pressure he was getting from the Foreign Office, by punishing some police officers”. Our response was very clear; he said “We need to conduct an in-depth investigation into this matter”

Moreover, it seemed there was an intention to respond to some kind of pressure using DfiD’s  aid in DR Congo as a political tool.

In October, the Congo government took the decision to expel the director of the UN Joint Human Rights Office, Scott Campbell, after the publication of his report which the Congolese government considers as imbalance, inaccurate and partial.

For a donor like DfID, leveraging aid and development funds to punish or reward the perceived conduct of recipients, or to placate domestic or international political agenda, is contrary to the partnership philosophy   that supposes to help the collaboration between the United Kingdome and the DR Congo, a post-conflicts country.

During a press conference to the assembled national and international media, on November 19, 2014 in Kinshasa,  the Congo’s interior minister Richard Muyej Mangez, has  demonstrated that   the report published on October 15, 2014 by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, UNJHRO, has in common with the one issued   on November 17, 2014 by the Human Rights Watch, HRW, on the same alleged operation,  and had  both the same methodological option, with the clear intention of discrediting the Congolese National Police, PNC and Congolese authorities.

The government has noticed with deep concern the imbalance, inaccuracies and partial view contained in these reports and the Minister has highlighted the fact that the HRW’s report has published the pictures of   people who were identified as having been killed and being forcibly disappeared during the Operation Likofi , while  these people  are still  alive.

To illustrate this, the Minister stated, the case of a 30 years man who the HRW’S alleged to be killed on November 26, 2013 (see page 21, picture 1, second line). The man has been identified by his services as Mr. Kibuasa FALAY nicknamed, NKUNDA, (reference made to the renegade general and rebel leader Laurent NKUNDA, responsible of the killings in Eastern of Congo) and who was prosecuted and still in prison at the Kinshasa Penal and Rehabilitation Centre,    pavilion 5.

 Another 22 years, young man that the report has alleged to be forced to disappear on December 23, 2013, (see page 21, picture 2, 3rd line of the HRW’s report).  According to the Minster, the boy’s name is MABELE DJANI  and was prosecuted  and still in prison at the Kinshasa Penal and Rehabilitation Centre, pavilion 5.

The two men were shown during the Interior Minister’s press conference in Kinshasa, on November 19, 2014 on front of the national and international media. (See pictures)

A 21 years old, identified by the same report as having been forcibly disappeared on December 24, 2013, is in  fact,  a 17 years old boy, Johnny Ngoy KALEMBA,  who was found  guilty by the youth tribunal and released. Is currently free;

Three others on the page, 21, picture 1, 1st line, picture 2, 2nd line and on page 22, picture 3. The first one is currently in Prison, the second was released and is living in the Commune of Mont-Ngafula. The   third one lives in the commune of Zanza in the Bas-Congo province.

The Government has also expresses doubts on what seems like a relentless around one of its senior officers, the General KANYAMA.

Even though it is not conceivable that this officer was reported as commander of an operation being conducted on a territory under another  jurisdiction  (In  Limete KIN-EST,  while  he was commander in Lukunga KIN-OUEST) , during   the elections of November 2011, the Human Rights Watch report  has already  find him guilty  for crimes  which have not been  yet proven .

What is surprising, is the fact that  DFiD  seems to care more about the Kuluna, well known in Kinshasa , as these   hundreds , maybe thousands organised  ultra- violent gangs, characterised by the   killings;  rape,  assaults with machetes and Robberies, than their victims.

What the report did not mention is the fact that the government did take all necessary measures before to launch the anti-gangs operation, called “Operation LIKOFI”.

In fact, a one month publicity awareness campaign was conducted by the police in Kinshasa to parents and to the violent gang groups.

A pulling-levers approach, which attempted to prevent gang violence, was used with a clear message that violent crime behavior will no longer be tolerated.

A well known Congolese music super star, Ngiama Makanda  Werrason, who captives millions around ,  was actively  involved in his role as a National Ambassador for peace.  Many   members of these violent gang groups called KULUNA ,  have  responded positively  to his message. Thousands of them, brought back their weapons including knives, machetes, even if, fire guns.

As part of the crime fighting scheme put in place by  the government ,   some gang members  where admitted at the Institut National de Preparation Professional. More than one hundred of them did get jobs, as part of the support to access training, education and employment scheme.

To prevent the human rights violation by some elements within the police involved in the operation, a legal team of eight ( civilian and military   judges s put in place, (2 women and 6 men) , a kind of  Independent Police C omission, so that people  could complain about both police officers and others involved in that operation. As a result, around thirty criminal prosecutions have been recorded within the police.

It very clear that, the crackdown operation was targeted the most radical criminals who didn’t respond to the government appeal.

Accordingly, the portrayal of the operation “Anti-Kuluna” and the general conclusions drawn from the allegations against it, as reflected in the two reports and the DfiD’s decision, constitute a misrepresentation of the sacrifices, achievements and genuine commitment of the government and Police responding to concern of the people in the Capital Kinshasa and many victims of these gang groups, in their quest for sustainable peace, and security.

On December 2 , 2014,  thousands of people, including many victims of  the KULUNA gangs, NGOs from the civil society,   took the streets in Kinshasa in support to the Congolese National Police and in protest of the publication of the two reports. At the assembly point, in their message, the organisers did ask to the Congolese government to continue with the operation to crack down, these criminals.

* Guy Momat is a London-based freelance journalist.