US and EU Sanction Congolese Top Military Leaders and Government Officials for Serious Human Rights Violations

Militia Commander Gedeon Kyungu Mukanda Surrenders in Oct 2016, wearing a shirt with Joseph Kabila's image

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

The US have imposed targeted sanctions against top military leaders and government officials of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for “planning, directing, or committing” serious human rights violations against Congolese civilians and opposition. The latest DRC top official to be sanctioned by the US, on June 1st, 2017,

is General Francois Olenga the commander of the notorious Republican guard, charged with the security of the current DRC dictator, Joseph Kabila. The US also imposed sanctions on a touristic resort, Safari Beach, owned by General Olenga and operating outside the capital, Kinshasa.

In a statement announcing the sanctions imposed by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), OFAC Director John E. Smith said, “This action against Olenga sends a strong message that continued acts of violence, aggression, and suppression by the Congolese military against its own citizens are unacceptable. The United States is prepared to apply additional sanctions against those who undermine the DRC’s democratic or electoral processes.

Reacting to the sanctions by the US, General Olenga told the media in the DRC, that he is not concerned by and could not care less about the sanctions by the US.

"I am a nationalist and revolutionary officer. No punishment will make me tremble. It has been more than thirty years since I have never been to the United States; so, I do not feel concerned about what Americans have announced," General Olenga said.

The latest targeted US sanctions follow those announced by the European Union (EU) on May 29th, 2017 against eight senior DRC officials and a militia leader. The sanctions include travel bans, assets freezes, and a ban on making funds or economic resources available to, or engaging in transactions with, the listed individuals and entities.

Since 2016 the US and the EU have imposed targeted sanctions against a number of Congolese senior officials and leaders, accused of planning, directing, or committing serious human rights violations against Congolese civilians and abusing fundamental rights of Congolese citizens including the right to democratic space. Those sanctioned so far include:

  • Évariste Boshab, the former vice prime minister and interior and security minister;
  • Lambert Mende, the communications and media minister and government spokesperson;
  • Muhindo Akili Mundos, an army commander;
  • Alex Kande Mupompa, governor of Kasai Central province;
  • Jean-Claude Kazembe Musonda, governor of Haut Katanga province;
  • Brig. Gen. Eric Ruhorimbere, an army commander;
  • Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga, a militia leader;
  • Kalev Mutondo, the intelligence chief;
  •  Ramazani Shadari, the current vice prime minister and interior and security minister;
  • Gen. Célestin Kanyama, an army commander;
  • Gen. Gabriel Amisi Kumba, an army commander and
  • John Numbi, a former police inspector.

It is expected that more sanctions may follow, that may target Joseph Kabila's inner circle.