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President Mobutu Sese Seko has dominated an authoritarian 
governmental system since seizing power in a 1965 military 
coup.  Under the pressure of economic crisis and domestic 
unrest, Mobutu in 1990 announced a "transition to democracy." 
Four years later, it remains far from complete.  A National 
Conference (CNS) investigated official wrongdoing, drafted a 
new Constitution, and selected Etienne Tshisekedi Wa Mulumba, 
Mobutu's most implacable political foe, as Prime Minister.  
Denouncing the authority and decisions of the CNS, Mobutu 
dismissed Tshisekedi in 1993 and appointed a defector from 
Tshisekedi's own Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) 
Party, Faustin Birindwa, as Prime Minister.  Refusing to 
recognize Mobutu's authority to remove him, Tshisekedi presided 
over a parallel set of governmental institutions until June, 
while most of the basic functions of government came to a halt.

In mid-1994 Mobutu's political allies and opposition leaders 
finally negotiated an end to the political impasse and 
established a transition Parliament (the HCR-PT) which elected 
the opposition Union of Independent Democrats's Kengo Wa Dondo 
as transition Prime Minister.  Under the agreement, ministerial 
positions are divided equally between Mobutu supporters and the 
opposition.  The UDPS and some smaller opposition groups 
continue to insist on Tshisekedi's legitimacy and refuse to 
accept Kengo's election or the portfolios reserved for them.

President Mobutu generally retained control of his carefully 
built overlapping security forces, a crucial factor in the 
transitional process.  The President's brother-in-law, General 
Baramoto Kpama Kpata, heads the Civil Guard, while Mobutu's 
ethnic kinsman General Nzimbi Ngbale heads the Special 
Presidential Division (DSP).  The regular armed forces, which  
include the Gendarmerie, are poorly trained, poorly 
disciplined, and not effective as an internal or external 
security service.  Moreover, members of the security forces, 
unpaid for months on end, frequently prey on civilians.  There 
was one instance of large-scale armed forces pillaging, in the 
town of Mbanza-Ngungu.  Members of the armed forces have also 
been implicated in numerous cases of small-scale armed robbery, 
extortion, and pillage.

The economy is based on subsistence agriculture, with little of 
the hard currency revenue traditionally generated by the mining 
and minerals industry, itself now crippled by deteriorating 
infrastructure and lack of new investment.  Diamond exports--
much of them from outside regulated channels--are now the 
mainstay of the country's hard currency revenues.  As the 
economy contracted, public employees went unpaid for months at 
a time, and corruption, blackmail, extortion, and embezzlement 
became endemic.  At year's end, the Kengo Government was still 
struggling to wrest control of the Central Bank from Mobutu, 
and to halt an influx of illegally printed currency that pushed 
the annual inflation rate to 7,800 percent.  Zaire has had no 
government budget since 1992.

Both the security forces and the military continued to commit 
widespread abuses, including extrajudicial killings and 
infringement upon individual rights in the continuing 
disintegration of state authority.  The security forces 
continued to threaten, torture, and illegally detain officials 
and others.  Some political demonstrations proceeded 
unhindered, but police disrupted others with threats, arrests, 
beatings, and detentions.  The present Government jailed and 
prosecuted only a few soldiers and no officials for human 
rights abuses.  Provincial officials continued to incite ethnic 
strife leading to massive displacement and deaths in Shaba, 
although on a smaller scale than the unprecedented violence in 
1993.  The central Government tolerated it until August, when 
the Prime Minister traveled to the area and publicly 
reprimanded the Shaba governor.  The military and vigilantes 
frequently committed acts of violence, usually with impunity.  
Prison conditions, already life-threatening, deteriorated 
further, although the Government did release sick prisoners.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

The undisciplined security forces committed numerous 
extrajudicial killings; in some cases these were linked to 
personal rivalries.  With only token wages--often none--for 
months at a time, many soldiers and gendarmes resorted to 
robbery and extortion, sometimes killing their victims or 
bystanders.  Human rights observers, the press and eyewitnesses 
reported several dozen such fatal altercations, many committed 
by uniformed personnel.  It is highly likely that additional 
incidents went unreported, especially in Zaire's remote 
interior.  In January security forces shot and killed a 
Kinshasa currency vendor, and a soldier beat a taxi driver to 
death; the soldier was tried and imprisoned.  In October a 
military tribunal sentenced a warrant officer and several 
enlisted troops to jail for killing a Goma businessman.

However, the Government neither investigated nor punished the 
perpetrators in most cases, hindering efforts to determine the 
number of killings and the extent of the security forces' 
involvement.  In several cases, poorly trained soldiers put
down disturbances using lethal force.

In April elite security forces put down armed mutiny in 
Mbanza-Ngungu and reportedly killed suspected looters.  Human 
rights monitors reported that a series of confrontations 
between security forces and local residents left at least two 
civilians, a gendarme, and a soldier dead in Bukavu during 
several days of intermittent rioting in January.  The 
disturbances began when gendarmes investigating a looting 
entered a home and wounded a resident; a crowd of civilians 
then beat one of the gendarmes to death.  Over the next several 
days, security forces and others looted homes and businesses,  
wounded more people, and killed a security guard.  Two days 
after the original altercation, a Civil Guard killed a vendor, 
and civilian bystanders in turn killed him.  Credible 
eyewitnesses have refuted earlier reports that security forces 
killed three bystanders in June when authorities arrested 
opposition leader Lambert Mende at a rally in Mbuji Mayi.

There were no known cases in which security forces deliberately 
targeted political opponents or others for summary execution.  
In a killing that may have had political overtones, journalist 
Pierre Kabeya of Kin Matin was reportedly abducted, then shot 
to death in June.  However, the motives and the perpetrators of 
the killing remain unknown.  In a November case that remains 
unresolved, journalist Adolphe Kavula of the newspaper Nsemo 
was found semiconscious, several days after he disappeared from 
his Kinshasa home and died shortly after.  The Kengo Government 
investigation found no evidence of foul play, but several human 
rights monitors believe security forces abducted, then fatally 
wounded Mr. Kavula.

     b.  Disappearance

There were several reports of disappearances; however, given 
the administrative breakdown throughout the country, some of 
these incidents may be cases of criminal kidnaping rather than 
politically motivated disappearances.  Although security forces 
frequently hold detainees incommunicado or in secret jails, 
they typically do not attempt to conceal the fact of detention 
(see Section 1.d.).  There were scattered reports of abductions 
in which unidentified assailants detained, threatened, and 
sometimes beat journalists or opposition politicians before 
releasing them.  In one such abduction, apparently linked to 
the Union of Independent Republicans (UFERI) Party's campaign 
of ethnic intimidation in Shaba province, assailants believed 
to be members of the UFERI Youth Wing (JUFERI) demanded that a 
public administrator give up his job in favor of a native of 
Shaba.  In most abduction cases, a political motive is not 

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although the law forbids torture, security forces regularly 
ignore this prohibition.  The use of torture is widespread, and 
the authorities, including the judiciary, rarely investigate 
claims of torture.  Security personnel frequently beat 
prisoners in the process of arresting or interrogating them.  
There were numerous reports that prisoners, including political 
opponents of the Mobutu regime, were struck, burned, or 
suspended upside down for long periods of time.

The press and human rights groups reported that undisciplined 
and often unpaid security forces routinely resorted to robbery, 
carjacking, extortion, and random acts of violence against 
ordinary citizens.  Numerous reports from human rights monitors 
and the press describe cases in which criminals believed to 
belong to the security forces beat, raped, or threatened their 
victims before stealing from them.  Top military officials have 
informed their troops that they will prosecute such abuses in 
military courts; in some cases, they did so.  For example, 
officials discharged 30 soldiers, tried them as civilians, and 
jailed them for their participation in the looting of 
Mbanza-Ngungu in April (see Section 1.a.); military courts 
convicted 3 of a 1993 pillage of a private residence in 
Kinshasa, and convicted 2 others of the abduction, rape, and 
beating of a civilian couple.  Many more such cases, however, 
are neither investigated nor punished.  Prime Minister Kengo 
failed to implement his promise to disarm all security force 
members whose jobs did not require weapons for their current 

Conditions in most of Zaire's 220 prisons and places of 
detention remain life-threatening.  Human rights groups 
recorded two deaths from malnutrition in Kinshasa's Makala 
central prison in May, and six deaths in the Kananga prison in 
May and June.  During the first half of the year, the central 
Government all but ceased to provide prisons with operating 
funds; consequently, virtually the only food and medical care 
was that provided sporadically by relatives and private 
charities.  Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are 
rampant.  Inmates in Makala sleep on the floor and have no 
access to sanitation, potable water, or adequate health care.  
Numerous reports on prisons in the interior suggest these 
conditions are both typical and widespread.  Prime Minister 
Kengo's Justice Ministry publicly deplored prison conditions 
and appealed for international assistance but has made no 
concrete improvements.  However, in August Justice Minister 
Kamanda released 48 ill and malnourished prisoners.  Abuse of 
prisoners is common.  In November, at the end of a fact-finding 
tour, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Roberto 
Garreton emphasized the problem of prison conditions, noting he 
had witnessed evidence of abuse, including torture.

The Zairian Prison Fellowship, religious organizations and the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report that 
they have regular access to prisons nationwide.  In some cases, 
however, the Government's unpublicized creation of new 
unofficial detention sites circumvents their access.  Measures 
taken to separate men, women, and juvenile prisoners are often 
inadequate.  Authorities have not targeted women for abuse, 
although rape sometimes occurs.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Under Zairian law, serious offenses, punishable by more than 
6-months imprisonment, do not require a warrant for the arrest 
of a suspect.  Any law enforcement officer having the status of 
"judicial police officer" is empowered to authorize arrest.  
This status is also vested in senior officers of each of the 
security services.  The law provides that detainees be brought 
before a magistrate for a hearing within 48 hours of arrest.  
If grounds for arrest are presented, the magistrate may order 
detention for an initial period of 15 days, followed by 
renewable 30-day periods.

In practice, the Government uses arbitrary arrests to 
intimidate political opponents.  Political arrests increased 
during periods of heightened opposition activism, either in 
connection with general strikes, demonstrations, or the 
politicized atmosphere surrounding the June 14 election of 
Prime Minister Kengo.  Authorities rarely file charges, 
obscuring the precise motive for political arrests.  Typically, 
police detain such prisoners for several days or weeks, then 
grant provisional liberty without arraignment.

Political prisoners and others are often detained 
incommunicado, with irregular or no access to legal counsel.  
Human rights monitors report cases in which corrupt local 
officials use detention as a means of extortion, arresting 
people on fabricated charges, only releasing them after a 
payment of a "fine."  Human rights monitors estimate that 
police detained and questioned a half-dozen people about 
opposition-sponsored general strikes.  For example, police 
arrested two opposition leaders after general strikes, Pierre 
Mankwamya in January and Olenga Nkoy in May.  They detained 
both for several weeks, questioned them about the organization 
of the strikes, and released them without formal hearings.  In 
another case with political overtones, authorities arrested 
UDPS leader Leon Kadima Muntutu on July 5, questioned him about 
illegal currency exchanges, then released him over 2 months 
later without charge.

It is difficult to estimate the number of political detainees 
due to detention in clandestine and remote locations and 
military facilities.  In mid-August, the Kengo Government 
reported that virtually all prisoners were detained "for 
cause," and that none was being held for purely political 

Security forces detained opposition leaders, sometimes very 
briefly, in an apparent effort to halt or head off political 
demonstrations.  Security forces arrested up to 80 people when 
they broke up a January demonstration by the Lumumbist Palu 
Party.  They released most detainees within hours, but held 
eight Palu leaders for several days.

Police detained Lambert Mende, a spokesman for the opposition 
Holy Union, for several hours when he tried to address a rally 
in Mbuji Mayi in June; on August 16, police detained three 
opposition labor leaders, Enos Bavela, Benjamin Mukulungu, and 
Kibaswa Kwabene, for most of the day when they attempted to 
organize a demonstration in Kinshasa.

In an incident that still remains unexplained, police detained 
former Prime Minister and chief of the radical opposition 
Etienne Tshisekedi on June 12 when he went on or near a 
military base.  They released Tshisekedi himself hours later 
without charge but kept three bodyguards and a driver who were 
arrested with him in custody for 2 months without charge.

Seventy percent of the inmates of Makala prison were officially 
awaiting trial.  Human rights and religious organizations 
suggest the problem is at least this severe elsewhere, with as 
many as 80 percent of inmates awaiting trial in some prisons in 
the interior.

The Transition Act of 1994 specifically forbids exile, and 
there were no known cases.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Despite constitutional provisions, the judiciary is not 
independent of the executive branch, and the executive branch 
often manipulates it.  Zaire's civil and criminal codes are 
based on Belgian and customary law.  The legal system includes 
lower courts, appellate courts, the Supreme Court, and the 
Court of State Security.  Adherence to acceptable legal 
procedures varies considerably.  Charges of misconduct against 
senior government officials must be filed directly with the 
Supreme Court.  Corruption is pervasive, particularly among 
magistrates who are poorly paid and poorly trained.  The 
judicial system is further hobbled by shortages of personnel, 
essential supplies, and intimidation of justices.  There is a 
system of separate military tribunals with an appeals structure 
that parallels that of civilian courts.  Decisions from the 
military tribunals may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Transition Act provides for the right to a speedy public 
trial, the presumption of innocence, and legal counsel at all 
stages of proceedings.  Defendants have the right to appeal in 
all cases except those involving national security, armed 
robbery, and smuggling, which are adjudicated by the Court of 
State Security.  The law provides for court-appointed counsel 
at state expense in capital cases, in all proceedings before 
the Supreme Court, and in other cases when requested by a 
court.  In practice, the authorities frequently ignore these 
protections.  Many defendants never meet their counsel or do so 
only after months of detention and interrogation.  The 
judiciary ceased to function for several months when judicial 
workers struck to protest the nonpayment of public employees.  
Most cases are heard only when defendant and plaintiff pay all 
court costs, including salaries, a situation which encourages 

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Security forces routinely ignore the Constitution's provision 
for the inviolability of the home and of private 
correspondence.  They ignore the requirement for a search 
warrant, entering and searching homes at will.  Under the 
pretext of searching for arms, troops entered and looted the 
home of a leader of the radical opposition in Kinshasa; troops 
also looted the home of an urban commissar in Kolwezi.  Human 
rights monitors and the press report numerous other instances 
in which gangs believed to be security forces entered and 
looted private homes, sometimes abusing or threatening the 
residents.  In many of these cases, simple robbery, rather than 
political intimidation, appeared to be the motive.  Citizens 
widely assume that the Government monitors mail and telephone 

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Regional government officials continued to provoke ethnic 
clashes in Shaba province and to expel inhabitants originally 
from the neighboring provinces of Eastern and Western Kasai, 
many of whom have lived in Shaba for several generations.
Throughout most of the year, provincial Governor Gabriel Kyungu 
Wa Kumwanza continued to publicly blame Shaba's economic 
problems on the Kasaians.  On several occasions, militant 
members of Kyungu's UFERI party blocked entry to Kasaian Lubas 
at their places of employment, blocked Kasaian farmers from 
working in their fields, and in general impeded passage of 
non-Shabans.  These attacks began to decline in mid-1994, 
especially after Prime Minister Kengo's August visit to Shaba, 
when he publicly reprimanded Kyungu for persecuting the 
Kasaians.  As a result of intimidation and the violent clashes 
of previous years, Kasaians continued to leave Shaba province.  
Most of them are thought to have returned to impoverished 
farming communities in Eastern Kasai, although many remain 
crowded into certain towns in northern Shaba, where they depend 
on international assistance for survival.

Other political rivalries touched off sporadic incidents of 
violence.  In July a group of UDPS supporters, who are 
frequently found in the street in front of opposition leader 
Tshisekedi's residence, seized three uniformed soldiers and 
beat them severely.  Subsequently, a larger group of soldiers 
arrived and beat several UDPS supporters and bystanders in 
retaliation.  During the ensuing melee, shots were fired, 
several people were hurt, Tshisekedi's home was damaged and 
some of his possessions looted.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution and the Transition Act provide for the right 
to express opinion, but the Government restricts this right.  
In practice, the press and public discussion are freer than 
before President Mobutu ended the one-party state.  During the 
latter half of the year, for example, opposition leaders have 
significantly increased their presence on the airwaves.  
Nonetheless, sporadic local attempts at control and 
intimidation frequently occur.  Newspaper publishers are 
required to deposit copies of each issue with the Ministry of 
Information prior to publication.  An ambiguous ordinance on 
"press freedom" which fails to define "freedom of the press" 
also serves to promote self-censorship and intimidate 
journalists, as does outright intimidation and violence.  For 
example, security forces abducted, threatened, beat, and 
detained journalists before releasing them (see Section 2.b.).

Human rights monitors reported cases of outright intimidation.  
Security forces searched and ransacked the Kinshasa offices of 
L'Analyst, forcing employees to vacate the premises.  They also 
jailed a journalist for Le Point du Zaire for denouncing the 
embezzlement of humanitarian assistance by President Mobutu's 
Popular Movement for the Revolution (MPR) Party chairman.  
Several other journalists and editors in the print media
claimed security forces threatened them, subjected them to 
obvious surveillance, or summoned them for interrogation.  The 
editor of L'Essor Africain went into hiding when he received 
such a summons.  The editor of La Reference Plus obeyed his 
summons; security forces subsequently questioned him for 
several hours.

In May a court sentenced a printer to 4 months' imprisonment 
for distribution of leaflets calling for a general strike.

In January Shaba provincial governor Kyungu suspended the 
Lubumbashi newspaper Mukuba for an article deemed "seditious," 
and he also suspended Taifa editor Crispin Luamba for "being a 
nonnative."  One month later, the Government fined Le Soft for 
its article on the Information Minister's embezzlement of 
funds.  In an ongoing case, the Government ordered Solidarite 
to divulge its sources for an article threatening the pillage 
of local churches.

On occasion, the Government or security forces interfered with 
the distribution of newspapers.  In April elements of the 
Military Action and Research Service seized and burned 
newspapers sold by small vendors in Kinshasa.  The governor of 
Maniema ordered a man arrested and detained for a month for 
bringing "opposition" newspapers from Kinshasa into the 

The Kengo Government allowed many foreign journalists to report 
throughout the year.  However, in March the Birindwa government 
investigated and expelled a Belgian documentary cinema producer.

Although numerous newspapers are published in Kinshasa, their 
impact largely remains confined to the capital and a few major 
cities.  Only the government-controlled radio and, to a much 
lesser extent, television, reach mass audiences.  The Zairian 
Radio and Television Office fired 9 of the 12 reporters in the 
broadcast media whom it had suspended the previous year, 
apparently for excessive independence in reporting.

The Government generally respects discussion within the 
university community but restricts the right to publish.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The right of the people to assemble peacefully has never been 
firmly established.  The Government requires all organizers of 
public meetings to apply for a permit.  In February the 
governor of Kinshasa issued an additional decree arbitrarily 
forbidding all political demonstrations while the Parliament is 
in session; the decree still stands.

Security forces repressed several political demonstrations, 
some of them violently.  In January they broke up a 
demonstration by the Lumumbist party Palu, beating the 
participants and arresting several dozen persons.  They 
released many of the participants within hours but detained 
eight for several days.  They also disrupted two other Palu 
demonstrations, in January and in May, in similar fashion.

At times, the Government tried to prevent demonstrations by 
denying permission or arresting the groups' leaders.  The 
Government denied permission to the pro-Tshisekedi UDPS to 
demonstrate in February and in May.  A human rights monitor 
reported that security forces arrested a UDPS supporter when he 
tried to organize a demonstration.  In August security forces 
arrested three leaders of the UDPS-oriented CDT Union 
Confederation who were attempting to lead a small demonstration 
of public functionaries.  The security forces detained the 
union leaders for several hours, until the Justice Ministry 
ordered their release.  The UDPS did, however, hold a major 
rally in June without incident, in sharp contrast to a rally 
that the Government violently repressed in 1993.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is no legally favored church or religion, but the 
Transition Act and the Constitution previously in effect limit 
religious freedom by authorizing the Government to regulate 
religious sects.

The 1971 law regulating religious organizations grants civil 
servants the power to establish or dissolve religious groups.  
This law restricted the process for official recognition; 
however, officially recognized religions are free to establish 
places of worship and to train clergy.  Most recognized 
churches have external ties, and foreign nationals are allowed 
to proselytize.  The Government generally does not interfere 
with foreign missionaries.

There has been no further known persecution of the Jehovah's 
Witnesses.  However, the Supreme Court in 1993 ordered the 
Kengo Government to pay damages to the church because the 
Mobutu government had banned it in 1986 as a danger to the 
national interest.  The Government has reportedly not yet paid 
these damages.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government restricts freedom of movement.  All citizens, 
refugees and permanent residents must carry identity cards.  
Police and soldiers erect checkpoints on major roads to inspect 
papers.  Security forces frequently use such inspections to 
extort money from travelers at airports, ferry ports and 
roadblocks.  In July a decree by Prime Minister Kengo banned 
such roadblocks.  Subsequent reporting indicates that, while 
there have been sporadic improvements in some areas, many 
roadblocks remain, particularly in remote areas of the interior.

Passports and exit permits are available, in principle, to all 
citizens, often at exorbitant cost from corrupt officials.  
There continue to be sporadic cases in which security forces 
harass human rights monitors and opposition politicians who 
attempt to leave the country.  In some of these cases security 
forces confiscated travel documents or other papers, forcing 
people to delay their travel.

Zaire was the destination of one of the largest refugee 
movements in history, when over 1 million Rwandans poured into 
the eastern border towns of Goma and Bukavu in a 5-day period.  
The influx quickly overwhelmed the Government's material and 
administrative resources and created security concerns of 
alarming proportions.  Undisciplined Zairian security forces 
robbed and extorted goods from refugees and relief agencies.  
Further complicating the security situation, the ranks of the 
refugees included an estimated 33,000 retreating Rwandan troops 
and an unknown number of militiamen.  While the armed forces 
confiscated many weapons at the border crossing, weapons were 
smuggled through checkpoints and across remote border areas, 
contributing to insecurity in the camps.  At year's end, former 
Rwandan military and government officials still controlled most 
of the refugee camps.  They intimidated both the refugees who 
wished to return home and relief workers.  Citing concerns for 
their security and that of the refugees, numerous relief 
organizations threatened to halt operations in the camps, 
unless an international security force was established there.  
By year's end, at least one, Medecins Sans Frontieres/France, 
had shut down operations in the camps for security reasons.  
The Zairian Government has sought assistance from the 
international community in providing security for the camps.  
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
estimates that 1.1 million Rwandan refugees remain in Zaire.

Early in 1994, only 40,000 Burundian refugees remained of some 
90,000 who had fled 1993 fighting, but continued instability in 
Burundi caused additional Burundians to enter, increasing the 
Burundian population to 125,000.  Many of the newly arrived 
Burundian refugees live in camps, and virtually all depend on 
assistance from international agencies and nongovernmental 
organizations (NGO's).  Zaire also hosts stable refugee 
populations of Angolans, Sudanese, Ugandans, and others.  In 
November, in an action protested by the UNHCR, Zaire forcibly 
repatriated 37 Rwandan refugees who were accused of committing 
crimes in Zaire.

Some 90,000 Zairians have sought asylum in neighboring 
countries.  The Government deals with prospective returnees 
individually, and there is no evidence of discrimination.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Transition Act mandates the rights of citizens to change 
their government, but the Mobutu regime continues to deny this 
right.  The 4-year program for transition to democracy remained 
stalled through much of the year.  In 1993 President Mobutu 
installed Prime Minister Faustin Birindwa--in defiance of 
constitutionally mandated procedures.  The Birindwa Government 
continued to exercise power through the first half of the 
year.  The Tshisekedi Government, which had held power 
previously, refused to step down.

In 1994, seeking to end the political impasse, Mobutu and 
opposition leaders negotiated a Transition Act, which led to 
the election of opposition leader Kengo Wa Dondo as Prime 
Minister on June 14.  Since then, Kengo's Government announced 
its intention to propose legislation establishing election 
procedures, and otherwise prepare the legal and administrative 
basis for holding free and fair elections by mid-1995, as 
mandated by the Transition Act.  The Kengo Government 
introduced in December legislation to establish an electoral 
commission.  However, since President Mobutu continues to 
maintain authority over many government operations through his 
control of key units of the military and the administration, 
including the Central Bank, and the Tshisekedi opposition 
remains intransigent, the outlook for legitimate 1995 elections 
remains highly uncertain.

There is no official discrimination against the participation 
of women or minorities in politics.  However, there are only 2 
women in the Cabinet, and only about 30 women in the 748-member 
transition Parliament.  Although citizens, Pygmies living in 
remote areas take no part in the political process.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

A number of nongovernmental Zairian human rights organizations, 
including the Zairian League of Human Rights, the Voice of the 
Voiceless (VSV), the Zairian Association for the Defense of 
Human Rights (AZADHO), and the Zairian Prison Fellowship have 
reported and documented human rights abuses and issued reports 
on the Government's attitude regarding its responsibility to 
protect these rights and to meet the basic human needs of the 
population.  Although human rights organizations generally were 
able to work unhindered, there were several episodes of 
harassment.  They also encountered delays in registration, 
unlike the treatment provided other organizations which do not 
focus primarily on human rights abuses.

Security forces confiscated AZADHO publications when that 
organization's president attempted to travel to the United 
States in January.  After delaying his travel a week, the 
AZADHO president left Zaire without further incident.  In the 
province of Haut Zaire, local authorities forbade a VSV  
representative from holding a human rights seminar without the 
express permission of the provincial governor.  When no 
permission was forthcoming, the representative held the meeting 
anyway, without incident.  However, authorities jailed another 
VSV representative working in Haut Zaire for several hours when 
he inquired about several prisoners.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Both the Constitution and the Transition Act forbid 
discrimination based on ethnicity, sex, or religious 
affiliation.  Nonetheless, the Government continues to 
discriminate in some areas, and legal and societal 
discrimination continues as well.


Despite constitutional provisions, in practice women are 
relegated to a secondary role in society.  They are the primary 
farm laborers and small traders and are exclusively responsible 
for child rearing.  In the nontraditional sector, women 
commonly receive less pay for comparable work.  Women tend to 
receive less education than men.  Although women work in the 
professions and the civil service, only rarely do they occupy 
positions that permit them to exercise authority over male 
professionals.  Few have attained positions of high 
responsibility.  Women are required by law to obtain their 
spouse's permission before engaging in routine legal 
transactions, such as selling or renting real estate, opening a 
bank account, accepting employment, or applying for a 
passport.  A 1987 revision of the Family Code permits a widow 
to inherit her husband's property, to control her own property, 
and to receive a property settlement in the event of divorce.  
However, in cases where the inheritance is contested, little 
effective intervention is likely from the dysfunctional 
judiciary.  The press and human rights groups generally ignore 
the question of domestic violence, despite its common 


Government spending on children's programs is nearly 
nonexistent.  Most schools, for example, only function in areas 
where parents have formed cooperatives to pay teachers' 

There are no documented cases in which security forces or 
others target children for specific abuse, although children 
suffer from the same conditions of generalized social disorder 
and widespread disregard for human rights that affect society 
as a whole.

Female genital mutilation is not widespread, but is practiced 
on young girls among isolated groups in the North.

     Indigenous People

Societal discrimination continues against Zaire's Pygmy 
population of 6,000 to 10,000.  There were no known reports of 
conflicts between Pygmies and agrarian populations in 1994.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Zaire's population of about 40 million includes over 200 
separate ethnic groups.  Four indigenous languages have 
national status.  French is the language of government, 
commerce, and education.  Political offices have generally been 
proportionally allocated among the various ethnic groups, but 
members of President Mobutu's Ngbandi ethnic group are 
disproportionately represented at the highest levels of the 
security and intelligence services.

     People with Disabilities

The law does not mandate accessibility to buildings and 
government services for the disabled.  Special schools, many 
with missionary staff, use private funds and limited public 
support to provide education and vocational training to blind 
and physically disabled students.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution and legislation provide for the right to form 
and join trade unions to all workers except magistrates and 
military personnel (including the gendarmes and national 

Before 1990 the law required all trade unions to affiliate with 
the National Union of Zairian Workers (UNTZA), the single 
legally recognized labor confederation which was an integral 
part of the only legal political party, the MPR.    When 
political pluralism was permitted in April 1990, the UNTZA 
disaffiliated itself from the MPR and reorganized under new 
leadership chosen through elections deemed fair by outside 
observers.  Although UNTZA remains the largest union, almost 
100 other independent labor unions and centrals are now 
registered with the Labor Ministry, some of them affiliated 
with political parties or associated with a single industry or 
geographic area.

The law recognized the right to strike; however, legal strikes 
rarely occur since the law requires prior resort to lengthy 
mandatory arbitration and appeal procedures.  Labor unions have 
not effectively defended the rights of workers in the 
deteriorating economic environment.

Most public sector employees, including judicial sector 
workers, struck sporadically throughout the year to protest 
nonpayment of salaries.  Three day-long politically directed 
general strikes, on January 19, May 27, and July 8, halted most 
activity in Kinshasa and in some provincial capitals.  Although 
the general strikes demonstrated the power of the opposition, 
they did not have a significant impact on worker issues.

Unions may affiliate with international bodies.  UNTZA 
participates actively in the Organization of African Trade 
Union Unity, and the Union Central of Zaire is affiliated with 
the World Confederation of Labor.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for the right to bargain collectively, and an 
agreement between the UNTZA and the Employers Association 
provided for wages and prices to be negotiated jointly each 
year under minimal government supervision.  This system, which 
functioned until 1991, broke down as a result of the rapid 
depreciation of the currency.  Continuing hyperinflation has 
encouraged a return to pay rates individually arranged between 
employers and employees; collective bargaining still exists, at 
most, on the level of the individual enterprise.

The collapse of the formal economy has also resulted in a 
decline in the influence of unions, a tendency to ignore 
existing labor regulations, and a buyer's market for labor.  
The Labor Code prohibits antiunion discrimination, although 
this regulation is not strongly enforced.  In the public 
sector, the Government sets wages by decree; public sector 
unions act only in an informal advisory capacity.

There are no export processing zones in Zaire.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced labor, and it is not practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum age for employment is 18 years.  Employers 
may legally hire minors 14 and older with the consent of a 
parent or guardian, but those under 16 may work a maximum of 4 
hours per day; youth between 16 and 18 may work up to 8 hours.  
Although the law bars minors under 18 from a wide variety of 
jobs deemed dangerous or unhealthy, authorities do not 
generally enforce these regulations.  Employment of children of 
all ages is common in the informal economic sector and in 
subsistence agriculture.  Neither the Ministry of Labor, which 
is responsible for enforcement, nor the labor unions, make an 
effort to enforce child labor laws.  Larger enterprises do not 
commonly exploit child labor.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Most Zairians are engaged in subsistence agriculture or 
commerce outside the formal wage sector.  The minimum wage, 
last adjusted by Government decree in 1990, continued to be 
irrelevant due to rapid inflation.  Most workers relied on the 
extended family and informal economic activity to survive.

The maximum legal workweek (excluding voluntary overtime) is
48 hours.  One 24-hour rest period is required every 7 days.  
The Labor Code specifies health and safety standards.  The 
Ministry of Labor is officially charged with enforcement of 
these standards.  However, the International Labor Organization 
Committee of Experts again expressed concern about the 
inadequacy of reporting during previous years, blaming this 
unsatisfactory performance on the dearth of human and material 
resources provided to the Ministry.  There are no provisions in 
the Labor Code permitting workers to remove themselves from 
dangerous work situations without penalty.


[end of document]


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