– NAME : RISC – Strengthening Initiatives to Rescue human rights defenders in Congo
– DATES : September 2021 – August 2024
– BUDGET : 950 000 $
– WHAT IT’S ABOUT : Protect, defend and support human rights defenders who are in danger because of their militant action in Eastern DRC.
– AREA OF INTERVENTION : Democratic Republic of the Congo (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Maniema provinces)
– LOCAL PROJECT PARTNERS : Synergie Ukingo Wetu (SUWE) – North Kivu, Goma ; SOS Information Juridique Multi-Sectorielle (SOS-IJM) – South Kivu, Bukavu ; Arche d’Alliance (ARAL) – South Kivu, Uvira
– FUNDING PARTNER : Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
WHY THIS PROJECT ?
Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Eastern DRC are increasingly exposed to threats and violence as a result of their activism.
Their security is compromised by two ongoing issues:
– the political and social crisis, which endangers political opponents and actors mobilizing for the respect of the rule of law;
– endemic violence, generated and perpetuated by the presence of illegal armed groups, the army, and abuses by local authorities.
The threats that HRDs face are manifold: arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, judicial harassment, intimidation and threats of death or kidnapping, torture, sexual violence, and even death.
But HRDs are the spokespersons of local populations and their demands for respect for their rights. Strengthening their security is therefore essential.
This is the objective of the RISC project – extended to Ituri and Maniema provinces in addition to the Kivus – of which the 1st phase (RISK) was carried out from 2016 to 2018 and the 2nd phase (RISK II) from 2018 to 2021.
Renewing this project was essential, to protect HRDs in a security context which remains worrying.
CONTEXT IN NUMBERS
IN THE DRC FROM JANUARY TO JUNE 2021
3 276 human rights violations and abuses* which is on average 546 human rights violations per month.
– 20% compared to the same period in 2020
– 14% compared to the previous semester (June-December 2020)
739 human rights violations in August 2021, which is 50% more than in July 2021.
66% of violations are attributable to agents of the State and 35% to members of armed groups
* the 5 most serious and widespread violations in the DRC according to the UNJHRO:
– sexual and gender-based violence
– arbitrary and summary executions
– arbitrary / illegal arrests and enforced disappearances
– torture and death in detention
– violation of economic rights and illegal exploitation of natural resources
OBJECTIVES AND MISSIONS
→ 1 : To urgently assist human rights defenders at risk by providing them with individualized support adapted to the threats they face (reactive protection: medical, psychological, legal, subsistence assistance, etc.)
→ 2 : To establish collective protection mechanisms for HRDs within their community in order to prevent the threats to which they are exposed and to react in case of danger
→ 3 : To establish through research, communication and advocacy work an ever more protective legal and political environment for HRDs in the DRC
The 3 local partner associations are references in the field of protection and assistance to HRDs, in each of their areas of intervention. Beyond their collaboration with Agir ensemble, they work regularly with international NGOs such as the Carter Center, Avocats Sans Frontières, Frontline Defenders, Human Rights Watch, Protection International, and international organizations (MONUSCO, European Union).
Synergie Ukingo Wetu (SUWE)
SUWE is a local protection mechanism dedicated to human rights defenders in North Kivu. At its origin: 8 human rights organizations in the region, supported by the Carter Center.