Democratic Republic of the Congo
Practice Related to Rule 95. Forced Labour
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Code of Military Justice (1972), as amended in 1978, provides that compelling civilians to carry out forced labour is an offence.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Military Penal Code (2002) provides:
In time of war or exceptional circumstances, compulsory work of civilians or deportation, for whatever reason, of a detained or interned individual, without a regular sentence in accordance with the laws and customs of war having been definitively pronounced, shall be punished with fifteen to twenty years of penal servitude.
If these acts were accompanied by ill-treatment, torture or followed by another breach, the perpetrator shall be punished by death.
In 2009, in the Basele Lutula and Others case, the Military Garrison Court of Kisangani convicted Mai-Mai militia members of various crimes, including beating civilians in order to subject them to forced labour. The Court stated:
B. Simple voluntary beating and wounding (article 46 of the CPO [Penal Code])
Article 46 of the CPO, book II, provides that: “Whoever voluntarily wounds or beats [a person] is liable to punishment of between eight days to six months’ imprisonment and a fine … ”.
It follows from this definition that the following three elements are constitutive of this offence:
- Material elements
- The human nature of the victim
- An element of intent
The material element consists of not only an act, but an act which is material. The act must be positive, not negative, that is, [not] an omission or inaction. The act must also be material such as beating [someone] with one’s hand or foot, or with a weapon or any other object or instrument.
In the present case, by punching … [the victims] and beating [them] with a stick and … a weapon … , the defendants Kipeleka Nyembo, Koti Okeke, Osumaka Loleka and Okanga Likunda carried out a material act in its double dimension.
This offence is only punishable if it is committed against living human persons.
Indeed, all the victims are living … human persons who inhabited Lieke, Losole or Likako.
Mens rea is required. The perpetrator must have acted in order to physically harm another person, that is, he must have the intention to wound or beat, regardless of the means and of the consent or mistake by the victim.
In the present case, the acts of punching and beating with a weapon … and a stick were committed consciously and voluntarily by the defendants against the victims … in order to make them carry out the heavy work of cutting down fruit trees.