Congo

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Persistent violations
  • Child labour[1]
  • Inadequate health provision, particularly in response to HIV and AIDS[2]
  • Inadequate education provision[3]
  • Discrimination against children from indigenous backgrounds, particularly with regards to education[4]
  • Early marriage[5]
  • Harmful traditional practices, including female genital mutilation[6]
  • Trafficking of children[7]
  • Violence and sexual violence against children, particularly girls[8]
  • Inappropriate use of detention for children[9]
  • Low rate of birth registration[10]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Persons, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

Located on the equator on Africa’s west coast, the Republic of the Congo’s terrain is dominated by rainforests and is rich in oil and diamonds. Congo’s post-independence history has been marked by political instability, coups and civil war, though President Nguesso has managed to retain power for most of the last 34 years. Serious human rights violations are reported to be ongoing in the country, including the torture, mistreatment and sexual abuse of children at the hands of the military and police.


Geography

An equatorial African country, the Republic of the Congo shares borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Cameroon and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda. The terrain is dominated by rainforests. The capital city, Brazzaville, is on the opposite side of the Congo River from Kinshassa, making the two capitals the world's closest.


Population and Language

Congo is home to 4.1 million people a figure that is rising rapidly at around 2.8 per cent annually.[1] This population is relatively ethnically diverse, largely made up of 15 Bantu groups, including the Bacongo, Vili, Bateke, M'Boche and Sangha and a further 70 subgroups. A small Pygmy population accounts for around 5 per cent of Congolese people. Reflecting this ethnic diversity, a number of languages are spoken within the Congo, including the official language of French, alongside Munukutuba, Lingala and Kikongo.[2]


History and Politics

The Congo gained its independence from France in 1960, though the inaugural democratic government was short lived, to be superseded three years later by a Marxist-Leninist single party State. The country remained subject to successive military led governments for the ensuing three decades, culminating in the government of Colonel Sassou-Nguesso, which ultimately instituted democratic reforms in 1992. A multi-party Constitution was approved by referendum that year, and the subsequent elections shifted power away from the formerly governing Congolese Labour Party (PCT), but the country quickly descended into violence. A peace agreement was signed the same year, but hostilities simmered throughout the civilian government and erupted in 1997 in a full scale civil war. Sassou-Nguesso was returned to power with the support of the Angolan army at the head of a transitional government in 1999.

The country launched a new Constitution in 2002, reaffirming a commitment to multi-party democracy, and Sassou-Nguerro was elected as President and the PCT, under his leadership, gained a massive majority in the National Assembly. The initial elections under the new Constitution, and those held subsequently, were widely criticised, preceded as they were by the banning or withdrawal of most major political opponents and other reports of electoral malfeasance[3]. Sassou-Nguesso's Presidential term will expire in 2016 and under the Constitution he will be unable to stand again.


Economy

Since the restoration of peace and the implementation of the 2002 Constitution, Congo has entered a period of significant growth. The oil industry has been vital to this growth and, though production has decreased over the past decade, the country managed to achieve real GDP growth of around 8.8 per cent in 2008, up from 7.5 per cent the previous year.[4] The country also has access to substantial natural resources beyond oil, including natural forests, arable land and deposits of gold and other valuable minerals. Despite this economic growth, much of the population have not benefited: an estimated 54 per cent of the population live on less than US$1.25 per day.[5] The World Bank has stressed the need to use oil wealth to build a more diversified economy and reduce poverty.[6]


Media and Civil Society

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) rated the Congo 90 out of 179 in its 2011/12 Press Freedom Index, indicating “noticeable problems” in the country. RWB particularly noted increased hostility towards the press during the 2009 elections, including the seizure of equipment, surveillance, harassment and physical attacks.[7] In the same year, a prominent opposition journalist who had been reporting unfavourably on government activities died in mysterious circumstances.[8]


Human Rights and Children's Rights

A number of very serious human rights violations continue to be reported in relation to the Congo. Amnesty International has reported on alleged ill-treatment and torture committed by members of the national security services and in detention centres, as well as cases of unexplained deaths in custody and insufficient public investigation into those incidents.[9] The Committee on the Rights of the Child has also raised concerns over allegations that children have been subjected to torture and other mistreatment in military and police detention, including rape.[10]

Footnotes:

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2011"
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Congo Country Profile"
  3. BBC, "Congo leader wins poll" 15 July 2009
  4. The World Bank, "Congo Country Overview" September 2011
  5. UNDP, "Congo Country Profile: Human development indicators"
  6. The World Bank, "Congo Country Overview" September 2011
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "Foreign journalists harassed during and after presidential poll" 20 July 2009
  8. Reporters Without Borders, "Report of investigation into Franco-Congolese journalist's death" 9 July 2009
  9. Amnesty International, "Annual Report 2011: The state of the world's human rights"
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: The Republic of the Congo, September 2006 CRC/C/COG/CO/1

Sources:

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