Secure Insecurity

The continuing abuse of civilians in eastern DRC as the state extends its control

Publication date: 6 March 2015
Author: Marijke Deleu, Protection Policy Advisor, Oxfam DR Congo Program

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) used to make international headlines for the conflict that has flared up repeatedly over the past 20 years. When the M23 rebel group was defeated in November 2013, there seemed to be a shift away from these repeated cycles of violence. The country appeared to be turning a corner into a post-conflict phase. 

However, new research presented in this briefing paper shows that citizens continue to experience widespread exploitation. In many areas they are still vulnerable to brutal violence from armed groups and in some cases from government, including the police, army and local officials. 

The challenge – how to consolidate the authority of the state, in a way that serves its people and ensures a lasting peace – remains a huge but vital priority.

Recommendations for the Government of DRC

To deliver on its commitment to ‘consolidate state authority’, the national Government of DRC should: 

  • Pay state officials, train them in their roles and responsibilities and monitor their implementation of these roles and responsibilities; starting in areas targeted for stabilization, to be implemented by the end of 2015; 
  • Support research and implementation of a quota system for women to be appointed as state officials.

Provincial, territorial and local governments should: 

  • Prioritize budget for the provision of support for state officials to offer services in rural, as well as urban, areas.
  • Promote access of women, youth and other groups to management and decision-making positions within customary structures which are subsumed into the public service;
  • Organize training and awareness raising in communities, so that citizens understand the roles and responsibilities of officials, as well as the fact that their services should be provided free of charge.

To deliver on its commitments to ‘continue, and deepen’ security sector reform (SSR), the Government of DRC should: 

  • Allocate budget for reform of the security services and ensure salaries for security services are paid. Pass all laws on SSR, as per the PSCF action plan;
  • Implement the commitment in the PSCF action plan published in July 2014 to establish accountability mechanisms for all security services – police, army and intelligence - by the end of 2015;
  • Make urgent progress on the latest disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program which has not yet been funded.