The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a nominally centralized,
constitutional republic. The president and the lower house of parliament (National
Assembly) are popularly elected. Provincial assemblies choose the members of the
upper house (Senate). In November 2011 the country held multi-party presidential
and National Assembly elections, which many local and international observers
characterized as lacking in credibility and seriously flawed. Authorities failed at
times to maintain effective control over the security forces. Some security forces
committed human rights abuses.
The conflict in the eastern part of the country, which intensified significantly in
2012, continued and challenged government control in the region. The conflict led
to the displacement of large numbers of persons and significant human rights
violations and abuses, including the recruitment and use of children by the 23
March Movement (M23) armed group.
The three most important human rights problems were: armed conflict in the East
that exacerbated an already precarious human rights situation, particularly with
regard to sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV); lack of an independent and
effective judiciary; and impunity throughout the country for many serious abuses,
including unlawful killings, disappearances, torture, rapes, and arbitrary arrests and
Other major human rights problems included: severe and life-threatening
conditions in prison and detention facilities; prolonged pretrial detention; arbitrary
interference with privacy, family, and home; abuse and obstruction of and threats
against journalists, human rights advocates, and members of the political
opposition by state security force (SSF) members; abuse of internally displaced
persons (IDPs) by SSF and rebel and militia groups (RMGs); restrictions on the
right to change the government peacefully; widespread corruption; SSF and RMG
retention and recruitment of child soldiers; and use of forced civilian labor.
Societal discrimination and abuse--particularly against women; children; persons
with disabilities; ethnic minorities; indigenous persons; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (LGBT) persons; and persons with albinism, trafficking in persons,
child labor, and lack of protection of worker rights also were major problems.

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