Central Kasai province determined to set up a provincial Truth, Reconciliation and Justice commission

Central Kasai province determined to set up a provincial Truth, Reconciliation and Justice commission. Photo MONUSCO/Laurent Sam OUSSOU

5 Feb 2020

Central Kasai province determined to set up a provincial Truth, Reconciliation and Justice commission

Laurent Sam OUSSOU

Kananga, February 5, 2020 - The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) and the Provincial Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in Kasaï Central have submitted the report of popular consultations on the needs for justice, reparations and new conflicts prevention in the Kasaï Central province, to the provincial Governor. It emerges from this report that the people of Kasai Central strongly support the establishment of the provincial Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

An official ceremony during which the report was handed to the provincial authority on February 4 was chaired by Martin Kabeya, the Governor of Kasaï Central province. The ceremony was attended by UNJHRO Director, Aziz Thioye, MONUSCO office chief in Kasai central province, Sophie Stecher, as well as civilian and military authorities of the province and representatives of the United Nations system working in the Kasaï Central province.

The provincial executive is indeed resolved to set up a provincial Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as expected by the people in that province. "This report reminds us the time has come for justice, repentance, reconciliation and peace, key to attaining the much-expected development in the region. This is why the provincial executive has undertaken, in collaboration with the Provincial Assembly, to set up a provincial Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission to enable us to stand together for justice, repentance, reparation, reconciliation and peace and to stand against any attempt to stage new conflict in Kasai Central, "said Kasai Central Governor.

Launched on August 15, 2019, the popular consultations were carried out by a team of experts trained with support from UNJHRO, in the identified 37 sites in the 5 territories of the Kasaï Central province and in Kinshasa where a large Kasaï Central community resides. At least 1,150 people (48% of whom are women) were consulted through individual or group interviews using open-ended questions to gather their opinions on their needs in terms of justice, reparation and prevention of new conflicts.

According to the consultation report, it is established that serious crimes were committed in Kasaï Central between 2016 and 2017, during the Kamuina Nsapu -related conflict. 58.2% of the interviewees have demanded "effective criminal proceedings against the alleged perpetrators, before any initiative for community reconciliation. 33.5% of the population is ready to forgive repenting perpetrators on condition that they are not accused of serious crimes. This forgiveness will have to be granted publicly during a traditional reconciliation ceremony in accordance with the Kasai central culture,’’ the report said.

The report also reveals that 89% of the population strongly supports the setting up of a Provincial Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. 86% believe "the Congolese state must bear primary responsibility for all the reparations to be given to the victims. 56% are in favor of organizing commemorative ceremonies, to keep the memories of such painful events. Finally, 95% strongly argue that it is possible to reconcile the different communities affected by the conflicts in Kasaï Central and to bring them to live together in peaceful coexistence.

The Head of MONUSCO office in the Kasai region, Sophie Stecher, who gave assurances as to MONUSCO’s support, encouraged the Provincial Governor to take ownership of the content of the report and to carry through the process by implementing all its recommendations.

UNJHRO Director vowed the Office readiness to assist the Provincial Government in implementing the recommendations formulated in the consultation report.