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Title:  Zaire Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                                     ZAIRE 
 
 
After 30 years of authoritarian rule, President Mobutu Sese Seko remains 
firmly in control of Zairian politics, despite his 5-year-old promise of 
democratic reform.  Although a National Conference was convened in 1992, 
Mobutu later withdrew his support for its chosen Prime Minister, Etienne 
Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, and appointed a former Tshisekedi ally, Faustin 
Birindwa, to lead the Government.  Refusing to accept Mobutu's authority 
to remove him, Tshisekedi presided over a parallel government until June 
1993 when both the Birindwa and Tshisekedi governments ceased to 
function.  In mid-1994, Mobutu allies and opposition leaders negotiated 
an end to the political stalemate by combining elements of the two 
governments to create a transitional constitution (the Transitional Act) 
and a combined transitional parliament (the HCR-PT).  In turn, the HCR-
PT elected Kengo wa Dondo as its Prime Minister, although some elements 
of the opposition contest the legality of the election.  With the 
opposition divided, the HCR-PT postponed national elections and voted 
itself a 24-month extension of the transition, which is now scheduled to 
conclude before July 1997. 
 
The President's authority continues to rest importantly on his control 
of key security forces, and the Kengo Government has little control over 
these forces.  The Civil Guard and the 15,000-strong Special 
Presidential Division (DSP) forces remain under the tutelage of Mobutu 
loyalists generals Baramoto Kpama Kpata and Nzimbi Ngable, respectively.  
Both divisions are better disciplined and paid with more frequency than 
the regular armed forces and the gendarmerie.  The Civil Guard, a police 
force trained to use police measures as well as methods to combat 
terrorism, to prevent fraud in customs collections, and to maintain 
order, is independent in structure but has been integrated into the 
armed forces.  Nonetheless, members of all the security forces often 
prey on civilians, generally without official rebuke.  Undisciplined 
soldiers continued to commit many criminal infractions, including 
robbery, extortion, and looting on a daily basis.  Members of the 
security forces also committed numerous serious human rights abuses.  
Despite initial skepticism, there has been high praise for the 
performance of close to 1,500 DSP troops policing the Rwandan refugee 
camps for most of 1995. 
 
The modern sector of the economy has collapsed since 1991, and many 
parts of the country have returned to barter systems in lieu of monetary 
exchanges.  Civil servants and military have gone without pay for 
periods of many months.  Subsistence agriculture is the mainstay of the 
economy and permits the country to survive the lengthy crisis.  Industry 
remains largely crippled.  Lack of new investment, poor roads and other 
facilities, and corruption--which affects all segments of the economy--
have contributed to the decline, especially in the once highly 
profitable mining and minerals sector.  Diamonds and offshore oil 
revenues constitute the country's major source of foreign currency.  The 
Kengo Government made some headway in restructuring the financial 
sector--including halting the massive importation of illegally produced 
Zairian currency, which was a major impetus to wild inflation and 
currency depreciation in 1994--and slowing the decline in the value of 
the national currency in 1995.  Also, the Government succeeded in 
presenting a national budget in December 1994 for the first time in 3 
years. 
 
Amid a general atmosphere of economic and personal insecurity, the 
Government continued to tolerate and commit serious human rights abuses.  
Large scale military pillaging abated as the Government occasionally met 
military payrolls; however, with the President in ultimate control, the 
security forces continued to commit numerous human rights abuses, 
including extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention.  In 
general, the authorities permitted such acts with impunity.  Prison 
conditions remain life threatening.  Citizens have never been able to 
vote to change their government in multiparty elections.  While there 
was some increase in freedom of expression, including a proliferation of 
independent newspapers, pro-Mobutu forces sought to limit freedom of 
speech and the press, and military and civilian security forces 
regularly detained or arrested journalists, editors, and even newspaper 
vendors.  The authorities permitted some political demonstrations to 
proceed unhindered, but in many others the police intervened with 
threats, bullets, detentions, and, in one instance, with lethal force.  
The judicial system is not independent and continued to be plagued by 
corruption, lack of due process, and many other problems; it remained 
ineffective as a deterrent or corrective force to human rights abuses.  
Security forces continued to violate citizens' right to privacy.  Ethnic 
conflict in eastern Zaire, exacerbated by the refugee influx from Rwanda 
and Burundi, resulted in many civilian deaths. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
Security forces, including police, committed many killings during the 
year.  However, given the administrative and security breakdown 
throughout the country and the often anecdotal nature of the accounts of 
these killings, it was often difficult to determine whether political, 
monetary, personal, or law enforcement objectives motivated these 
security force killings.  Reports often linked killings to random acts 
of robbery or extortion.  For example, the local press in Kisangani 
reported that gendarmes killed as many as 50 people during armed 
robberies in 1 month.  Only rarely did the authorities make inquiries 
into such incidents.  In the east, ethnic conflict led to many deaths 
(see Section 1.g.). 
 
In July, in the most egregious example of extrajudicial killing, Civil 
Guards used lethal force to put down an unauthorized demonstration by 
the Unified Lumumbast Party (PALU) in Kinshasa.  Human rights monitors, 
press reports, and the Kengo Government state that 4 protesters and 1 
soldier died and that 54 others were seriously wounded.  There were 
clear political objectives involved in the aftermath of the 
demonstration, when the military attacked the home of PALU leader 
Antoine Gizenga and raped and killed a member of his family.  The 
military and the Government launched official inquiries into these 
incidents but failed to report any results by year's end. 
 
In January government troops used excessive force in repressing striking 
railroad workers, killing one person and wounding several others (see 
Section 6.a.).  No one has been named responsible for the killing. 
 
In Shaba security forces also committed political and extrajudicial 
killings.  Continuing a longstanding pattern of conflict between local 
military leaders and the Shaba-based party, the Union of Independent 
Republicans (UFERI), in March the Civil Guard targeted UFERI members and 
its youth wing on two separate occasions, killing three persons.  In May 
uniformed forces disrupted a UFERI party rally, killing one protester 
and wounding four others by gunfire.  The military acted on the orders 
of General Mosala and not of anyone in the civilian government in Shaba 
or in the Kengo Government.  Both the then Shaba governor, Gabriel 
Kyungu, and General Mosala were subsequently removed from office in 
Shaba.  In December Kyungu was briefly detained in Lubumbashi after a 
march by his party, UFERI, was banned by the acting governor. 
 
In several cases, notably in the country's interior, citizens responded 
to military aggression in kind, sometimes killing soldiers.  In Kitwit, 
for example, residents lynched a soldier who had moments earlier 
murdered a civilian.  In one instance, PALU activists murdered a soldier 
who was trying to block their demonstration. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were several reports of disappearances; however, some of these 
instances may have been criminal, rather than political, in nature.  
Security forces regularly hold alleged suspects in secret detention for 
varying periods of time before acknowledging that they are actually in 
custody.  The most frequent accounts of disappearances are those 
perpetrated by unidentified assailants who abduct, threaten, and often 
beat their victims before releasing them.  Journalists and opposition 
party members claim that they are targets for such actions.  Patrick 
Shotsha On'Oto, a youth leader who had been periodically harassed by 
uniformed personnel since participating in the 1992 Christian students' 
march, disappeared in April after giving a lecture on the role young 
people should play in elections.  His whereabouts remained unknown at 
year's end. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
      Treatment or Punishment 
 
Although the law forbids torture, security forces and prison officials 
regularly disregard this prohibition.  They often beat prisoners in the 
process of arresting or interrogating them.  Several released prisoners 
claim to have been struck, kicked, whipped, and suspended upside down 
for long periods of time.  After being beaten while in military custody, 
a prisoner from Kinshasa's Camp Tshatshi was hospitalized for abdominal 
hemorrhaging.  In April four of General Bosembo's security guards 
apprehended Dr. Muema Ngoy Toka, a member of the Democratic Social 
Christian Party (PDSC), and beat him severely before the general 
authorized his release.  The authorities, including the judiciary, 
rarely investigate claims of torture, despite their prevalence. 
 
Conditions in most of Zaire's known 220 prisons and places of detention 
remain life threatening.  The central Government does not assume 
responsibility for furnishing prisons with food or medical supplies.  
Prison facilities are grossly inadequate; living conditions are harsh 
and unsanitary, and prisoners are poorly treated.  The system is marked 
by severe shortages of funds, medical facilities, food, and trained 
personnel.  Overcrowding and corruption are widespread.  Reports of 
prisoners being tortured, beaten to death, deprived of food and water, 
or dying of starvation are common.  Many prisoners are wholly dependent 
on family and friends for their survival. 
 
Inmates at Makala Central Prison in Kinshasa sleep on the floor without 
bedding and have no access to sanitation, potable water, or adequate 
health care.  Even in Makala's best-equipped ward, 114 white collar 
criminals share one latrine.  Tuberculosis, red diarrhea, and other 
infectious diseases are rampant.  Although authorities have not targeted 
women for abuse, rape does occur.  Of the 45 women in Makala Prison in 
July, 6 were accompanied by children under the age of 5 years.  
Political prisoners are held in a separate ward and are allowed little, 
if any, contact with prison visitors. 
 
On December 27, the Minister of Justice issued an order prohibiting 
government officials and soldiers from imprisoning people in 25 of the 
73 detention centers in the region of Kinshasa.  The decision was based 
on a judicial commission's report that these 25 facilities were in "an 
advanced state of unhealthiness incompatible with human dignity."  
Makala Central Prison was not listed among the 25 prisons which should 
no longer be used. 
 
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), religious 
organizations, and a handful of local human rights organizations report 
that they have regular access to prisons nationwide.  In some cases, 
however, the Government's unpublicized creation of unofficial detention 
sites circumvents their access. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
Under the law, serious offenses, punishable by more than 6 months' 
imprisonment, do not require a warrant for a suspect's arrest.  Only a 
law enforcement officer with "judicial police officer" status is 
empowered to authorize arrest.  This status is also vested in senior 
officers of each of the security services.  The law instructs security 
forces to bring detainees to the police within 24 hours.  The law also 
provides that detainees must be charged within 24 hours and be brought 
within 48 hours before a magistrate, who may authorize provisional 
detention for varying renewable periods. 
 
In practice, these provisions are rarely followed.  Gendarmes and Civil 
Guards commonly detain civilians without any legal authority, and the 
security forces--especially those carrying out the President's 
directives or those of any other official with authority--use arbitrary 
arrests to intimidate outspoken opponents and journalists.  The military 
and security are controlled by the President.  Charges are rarely filed, 
obscuring the precise motive for political arrests.  When the 
authorities actually do press charges, the claims are often trumped up 
or dredged out of the archives of colonial regulations. 
 
In February DSP forces arrested Bobo ye Mweni on questionable charges of 
diamond embezzlement.  Credible reports indicate that the warrant for 
his arrest was signed by President Mobutu's son, Manda, who is not 
vested with such authority.  In March DSP agents arrested Bobo's parents 
and sisters and held the family for several months.  In the case of PALU 
leader Antoine Gizenga, the Government charged him with violating a 1959 
colonial ordinance banning political demonstrations without a permit.  
In another highly publicized case, the authorities arrested two union 
leaders, Okitalombo Pena Ngongo and Mbelu Tshimanga, on spurious charges 
of defamation and denied them a preliminary hearing; they were held 
without trial for almost 2 months, and then released without charge. 
 
Political detainees are typically held incommunicado, with irregular or 
no access to legal counsel, sometimes held in unofficial detention 
sites.  Opposition newspaper journalist Essolomwa Nkoy's detention of 
several days at the Tshatshi military camp for an article accusing top 
generals of corruption was characteristic of this kind of detention.  In 
another politically motivated incident, police assaulted and detained 
acting UFERI party regional head Astrid Tshikung and others for several 
hours in June. 
 
Corrupt local officials often use detention as a means of extortion, 
arresting people on fabricated charges, releasing them only after 
payment of a "fine."  In July civilian intelligence officers in 
Lubumbashi illegally detained an American human rights activist and a 
British citizen.  The American was released 1 day later, but the British 
citizen spent 5 days in custody, while the officers attempted to extort 
$5,000 for his release. 
 
Of the 920 detainees accounted for in Makala Prison in July, more than 
70 percent had yet to come before a judge, although many of them had 
spent as long as 2 years behind prison walls. 
 
The Transitional Act 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 latter 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.  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.  Charges of misconduct against senior government 
officials must be filed directly with the Supreme Court. 
 
The Transitional 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 the court. 
 
In practice, the authorities frequently ignore these protections.  
Adherence to established legal procedures varies considerably, and fair 
public trial is rare, especially for  
 
critics of the Mobutu forces as in the case of the two Le Point editors 
(see Section 2.a.).  Corruption is pervasive, particularly among 
magistrates who are poorly paid and poorly trained, and the entire 
judicial system is further hobbled by shortages of personnel, essential 
supplies, and infrastructure.  Many defendants never meet their counsel 
or do so only after months of detention and interrogation.  Most cases 
are heard only when the defendant or plaintiff pay all court costs, 
including salaries, a situation which encourages corruption. 
 
Judicial officials sent to remote areas in the country in some cases 
either refused to assume their posts or fled from them in ethnic 
purification campaigns, particularly in Maniema and Shaba.  As a result, 
local authorities usurped judicial proceedings in some parts of the 
country. 
 
There are no reliable statistics on the number of political prisoners in 
Zaire, but the trend of incarcerating people for their political views 
in 1995 was definitely downward compared to past years.  On December 26, 
the authorities released Kabila Kakule, a translator at the National 
Library, who had been jailed for translating National Conference 
documents into national languages. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
Security forces routinely ignore the Transitional Act'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.  In March gendarmes in Lilangi perpetrated a villagewide 
house-by-house pillage while detaining homeowners in the local prison.  
In April approximately 60 Civil Guards besieged the home of the 
suspended head of the national customs office in Kinshasa where they 
stole money and personal belongings.  Security forces looted Antoine 
Gizenga's home following PALU's July 29 demonstration (see Section 
1.a.). 
 
The threat of rape, sometimes perpetrated by uniformed persons, 
restricts the freedom of movement at night for women in some 
neighborhoods.  Groups of citizens have implemented neighborhood watch 
programs, but women in many parts of Kinshasa do not leave their homes 
at night. 
 
The DSP has also been used to intimidate private businesses for the 
commercial gain of individuals.  For example, the DSP intervened in a 
private commercial dispute between a foreign-owned company and a local 
competitor firm owned by one of Mobutu's closest associates.  The Kengo 
Government strongly supports the contractual rights of foreign investors 
and has sought, unsuccessfully in most cases, to curtail arbitrary 
interference by elements of the military, as in this case.  Uniformed 
personnel routinely interfere with daily economic activities, especially 
those that take place outside formal channels.  Currency vendors are 
particularly at risk and remain subject to repeated robberies by 
uniformed assailants.  In June soldiers in Kinshasa looted a makeshift 
market before burning it down and chasing sellers from the area. 
 
Citizens are free to join or refrain from participating in any political 
party.  However, opposition party members often complain that they are 
followed or harassed by troops loyal to the President.  Citizens widely 
assume that the Government monitors mail and telephone communications. 
 
   g.   Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts 
 
Ethnic clashes, notably in the Masisi area of eastern Zaire, led to many 
human rights abuses, despite the June deployment of Zairian troops to 
the region.  In early July, 85 people were killed when fighting again 
erupted between the Banyarwanda, immigrants of Rwandan origin, and 
indigenous ethnic groups.  The 1994 influx of refugees and former 
Rwandan soldiers aggravated the longstanding conflict between these 
Zairian groups.  Also, ambiguities in Banyarwanda legal status, caused 
by conflicting laws that bestow and then revoke citizenship, further 
inflamed tensions, especially with the prospect of multiparty elections. 
 
In contrast, the situation improved in Shaba province when Governor 
Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza's overt campaign against Kasains living in 
Shaba ended; he was suspended from office indefinitely in May.  By July 
nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) and other donor agencies had 
resettled the last groups of displaced Kasains who had been forced to 
flee Shaba. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Transitional Act provides for freedom of expression as a fundamental 
civil right.  While the press and the public are able more openly to 
exercise freedom of expression than before the transition began in 1990, 
in practice the Government-- notably those elements loyal to the 
President--continues arbitrarily to intimidate, harass, and detain 
journalists and other media officials for publishing controversial 
pieces.  Newspaper publishers are required to deposit copies of each 
issue with the Ministry of Information prior to publication.  In 
December the Parliament passed a new press law after consultations with 
media representatives, but the President had not signed it by the end of 
the year, and it appeared he would send it back to Parliament for 
reconsideration.  While the proposed law deals mainly with media 
administrative issues, it would also codify the law in libel cases and 
require journalists to reveal sources "when required by the law." 
 
In April the Attorney General ordered the arrest of two Le Point 
editors, Belmonde Magloire Missinhou and Mazangu Mbuilu, for publishing 
an article critical of the judiciary.  They were held in preventive 
detention for 2 months and then sentenced to an additional 7 months in 
prison.  They were released in December.  Also in April, the authorities 
arrested a Kin-Matin journalist for his article denouncing the 
introduction of new currency denominations of 1,000 and 5,000 New Zaire 
notes.  In some cases, government and military authorities target media 
reporters and officials for extortion purposes.  
 
The principal means of communication with the public are radio and 
television, both of which remain under presidential control.  The 
Ministry of Information suspended four television reporters for refusing 
to broadcast a message for Mobutu's political party, the Popular 
Movement of the Revolution (MPR). 
 
In principle, academic freedom is provided for in the Transitional Act.  
However, in the past when teachers have organized to protest their 
salaries and working conditions, they have sometimes been met with 
repression. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Transitional Act upholds the right to assemble but subsumes the full 
exercise of this right to the maintenance of "public order."  The 
Government requires all organizers to apply for permits which are 
granted or rejected at its discretion.  In some cases, the Government 
uses the issuance of permits to discriminate against political opponents 
and has revived a 1959 colonial ordinance to justify banning public 
meetings.  However, the Government did allow several groups, including 
the radical opposition, to hold several large gatherings, the last one 
on August 6, and on that occasion security forces displayed discipline. 
 
Nevertheless, in other instances security forces repressed unauthorized 
political and other demonstrations, sometimes violently (see Section 
1.a.).  In March, for example, when civil servants marched to protest 8 
to 12 months of salary arrears, security forces arrested 34 protesters, 
detaining them for 7 days.  While several reports of the July 29 killing 
of 14 PALU demonstrators by Civil Guard forces maintain that the PALU 
supporters were violent, throwing stones and killing a soldier, the 
military demonstrated again its inability to effect crowd control 
consistently without resort to excessive use of force. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Transitional Act provides for freedom of religion, and the 
Government respects this provision in practice, with the reservation 
that the expression of this right neither disturb public order nor 
contradict commonly held morals,  There is no legally established or 
favored church or religion.  A 1971 law regulating religious 
organizations grants civil servants the power to establish or dissolve 
religious groups.  Although this law restricts the process for official 
recognition, 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 Jehovah's Witnesses, who 
have been permitted to construct a headquarters in Kinshasa. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Transitional Act allows for freedom of movement, but the Government, 
and in particular the security forces acting independently, restrict 
this freedom.  All citizens, refugees and permanent residents must carry 
identity cards.  Security forces erect checkpoints on major roads to 
inspect vehicle papers, usually to extort money from travelers at 
airports, ferry ports, and roadblocks.  In November Prime Minister Kengo 
dismissed 100 gendarmes accused of harassing motorists, although his 
efforts did little to curb the security forces' widespread extortion.  
Passports and exit permits are available in principle to all citizens 
but often at exorbitant cost from corrupt officials.  Women must have 
the permission of their husbands to apply for a passport (see Section 
5). 
 
Zaire continues to house some 750,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees along its 
densely populated eastern border.  It cooperates with the U.N. High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who estimates that there are 
approximately 120,000 Burundi Hutu refugees located in the same area.  
Extreme regional insecurity prompted the United Nations and donor 
nations to request a neutral military presence in the camps.  With no 
international response forthcoming, they authorized in December 1994 a 
contingent of Zairian special forces to take on the task.  At year's 
end, the second contingent of 1,500 Zairian Camp Security Contingent 
troops from the Special Presidential Division continued to perform their 
duty well, and, according to the UNHCR and other U.N. agencies, the 
security situation has improved, although serious obstacles remained.  
Cross-border violence has rendered the overall refugee security 
situation even more unstable, and refugees are subject to extortion, 
robbery, and sexual abuse.   
 
There have been abuses by both the former Rwandan military and civilian 
refugees in the camps.  The Kengo Government agreed to remove 
intimidators in the refugee camps in late December. 
 
In a July visit to the region, Prime Minister Kengo announced that the 
refugees in the Kivu provinces must return home.  On August 19, the 
Zairian army started forced repatriation of Rwandan and Burundian Hutu 
refugees declaring that Zaire was bearing the weight of the presence of 
these refugees on its territory and that the Government of Rwanda had 
done nothing to create conditions inside Rwanda to allow the refugees to 
return to their homes.  Following a commitment from the UNHCR to 
reinvigorate organized voluntary repatriation, the Government suspended 
forced repatriation on August 24 but stated that Zaire retains the right 
to resume forced expulsions if the UNHCR fails to make sufficient 
progress through voluntary repatriation.  More than 14,000 Rwandan and 
Burundian refugees had been forcibly repatriated prior to the August 
suspension.  In November, after again threatening to expel refugees by 
December 31, the Government agreed to allow refugees to remain, provided 
regional efforts were made to facilitate their return. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
The Transitional Act mandates the right of citizens to change their 
government, but Zairians have never been able to exercise this right and 
vote in multiparty elections.  President Mobutu continued to impede 
democratic progress by exercising control over key parts of the state 
apparatus, especially the military, and by coopting factions of the 
political opposition, often with spurious promises.  In the process, the 
President exacerbated party maneuvering and political posturing in the 
Transitional Parliament (HCR-PT) and stimulated Tshisekedi's and the 
radical opposition's intransigence in Parliament.  Already by July the 
divided HCR-PT had extended its own mandate and postponed elections for 
2 more years. 
 
Despite these impediments, the Parliament passed implementing 
legislation establishing a National Electoral Commission (NEC) to 
conduct a nationwide census, register voters, publish a list of 
candidates, and supervise eventual elections.  On January 1, 1996, the 
HCR-PT broke the deadlock over the question of the NEC membership. 
 
Initially, the President refused to sign legislation aimed at 
decentralizing government and reorganizing provincial civil affairs.  
The HCR-PT sent another version of the legislation to the President in 
late November, and he signed it on December 20. 
 
There is no official discrimination against the participation of women 
or minorities in politics.  However, there are few women in senior 
positions in the Government or in political parties.  At the Fourth 
World Conference on Women, the Minister of Health and Family, Mrs. 
Florentine Fwani Eyenga, cited the low level of political participation 
of women in Zaire as a major problem.  Only a few women are in the 728-
member Transitional Parliament. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
While the Government rarely responds to human rights accusations, it 
permits a number of effective nongovernmental human rights organizations 
to operate, including the Zairian Association for the Defense of Human 
Rights (AZADHO) and the Voice of the Voiceless (VSV).  Both 
organizations investigate and publish their findings on human rights 
cases, largely without government restriction.  The Government 
acknowledged AZADHO's 1994 report of human rights abuses, although it 
quibbled with the group's figures.  However, the security forces 
continued occasionally to harass and intimidate human rights monitors.  
In April military security forces apprehended and intimidated one of 
AZADHO's secretaries.  In July, in two separate incidents, security 
agents harassed members of another Kinshasa-based human rights group.  
The Government permits international organizations to visit and discuss 
abuses; the ICRC is allowed to visit prisons on a regular basis. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Transitional Act forbids discrimination based on ethnicity, sex, or 
religious affiliation, but the Government has made little headway in 
advancing these provisions.  Societal discrimination remains an obstacle 
to the advancement of certain groups, particularly women and the Pygmy 
(Batwa) ethnic group. 
 
   Women 
 
Domestic violence against women, including rape, is believed to be 
common, but, there are no known government or NGO statistics on the 
extent of this violence.  Rape is a crime in Zaire, but the press rarely 
prints articles about "a rape" or violence toward women or children.  
When the press reports on a rape, it is generally as a consequence of 
some other crime, but rarely because of the act of rape itself.  Rarely 
are the police involved in domestic disputes, and local NGO's dealing 
with women's issues state that they have not heard of any court cases in 
1995 in Kinshasa involving rape or spousal abuse. 
 
Despite constitutional provisions, women are relegated to a secondary 
role in society.  They remain the primary agricultural laborers, small-
scale traders, and vendors and are exclusively responsible for 
childrearing.  In the nontraditional sector, women commonly receive less 
pay for comparable work.  Only rarely do they occupy positions of 
authority or high responsibility.  They also tend to receive less 
education than men.  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 (see Section 2.d.). 
 
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.  In practice, women are 
repeatedly denied these rights.  Widows are commonly stripped of all 
possessions--as well as their dependent children--by the deceased 
husband's family.  Human rights groups and church organizations are 
working to combat this custom, but there is generally no government 
intervention or legal recourse.  Women also are denied custody of their 
children in divorce cases, but they retain the right to visit them.  
Polygyny is practiced although it is illegal.  Children resulting from 
polygynous unions are legally recognized, but only the first wife is 
legally recognized as a spouse. 
 
   Children 
 
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' salaries. 
 
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.  These conditions sometimes 
render parents unable to meet their children's basic human needs. 
 
Female genital mutilation, which is widely condemned by international 
health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is 
not widespread, but it is practiced on young girls among isolated groups 
in the north. 
 
   People With Disabilities 
 
The law does not mandate accessibility to buildings or 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. 
 
   Indigenous people 
 
Societal discrimination continues against Zaire's Pygmy (Batwa) 
population of between 6,000 and 10,000.  Although citizens, Pygmies 
living in remote areas take no part in the political process. 
 
   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.  Members of President 
Mobutu's Ngbandi ethnic group are disproportionately represented at the 
highest levels of the military and intelligence services. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
The Transitional Act and other legislation permit all workers except 
magistrates and military personnel to form and join trade unions.  
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 formed part of Mobutu's MPR party.  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 the UNTZA remains 
the largest union organization, almost 100 other independent labor 
unions are now registered with the Labor Ministry.  Some of these are 
affiliated with political parties or associated with a single industry 
or geographic area. 
 
The Government recognizes 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 been able to 
defend effectively the rights of workers in the deteriorating economic 
environment.  In January government troops repressed striking railroad 
workers, killing one and wounding several others (see Section 1.a.).  In 
March the authorities arrested and detained for 7 days 31 civil servants 
and 3 organizers during a demonstration in protest of months of salary 
arrears.  Many civil servants have remained on strike since then.  
General strikes, often called by political parties and not necessarily 
organized by unions, do occur despite their illegality.  The law 
prohibits employers or the Government from retaliating against strikers, 
but it is rarely enforced. 
 
In November the International Labor Organization Committee on Freedom of 
Association (CFA) cited Zaire for serious violations of the principles 
of freedom of association on the basis of complaints arising from events 
between mid-1993 and March 1995.  The CFA expressed "deep concern" about 
"arrests, detentions, and torture of trade unionists, acts of repression 
against demonstrators, the hampering of trade union activities, and acts 
of antiunion discrimination, including the dismissal of officials, 
prohibition of union meetings in the health services, refusal to 
register trade unions, creation of trade unions by the authorities, and 
the Government's refusal to negotiate with representative trade unions."  
The CFA regretted the Government's failure to respond to these 
allegations and called on it to make restitution where possible and to 
desist from such actions in the future. 
 
Unions may affiliate with international bodies.  The UNTZA participates 
in the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, and the Central Union 
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.  While collective 
bargaining still exists in theory, continuing hyperinflation has 
encouraged a return to pay rates individually arranged between employers 
and employees. 
 
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 by the 
Ministry of Labor.  The law also requires employers to reinstate workers 
fired for union activities.  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. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The law prohibits forced labor, and such labor 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 years of age and older with the consent of a parent or 
guardian, but those under 16 years may work a maximum of 4 hours per 
day; youth between 16 and 18 years may work up to 8 hours.  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 citizens are engaged in subsistence agriculture or commerce outside 
the formal wage sector.  The minimum wage, last adjusted by government 
decree in 1990, is irrelevant due to rapid inflation.  Most workers rely 
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, and, while the Ministry of Labor 
is officially charged with enforcing these standards, its efforts to do 
so remained insufficient.  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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