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Congo Catholic Bishops Praise U.S. Law on Conflict Minerals August 17th, 2010

The Congolese bishops have welcomed the passage into law of the Congo Mineral Conflict and Extractive Industries Transparency via amendments to the US Financial Reform Bill. The president of the National Conference of Bishops of Congo, Bishop Nicolas Djomo said during a press conference in Kinshasa that the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is determined to campaign for the newly enacted law on conflict minerals so that it becomes useful in the extractives industries in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bishop Djomo said that the legislation will help restore peace in the Democratic Republic Congo and that more actions are needed to strengthen good governance, support the legal economy, encourage peace and reconciliation, create a legal framework to revive the judicial system, and encourage citizens to engage in public life.

Bishop Djomo, who also serves as the Bishop for the diocese of Tshumbe in Kasai Oriental Province, thanked the America people and praised the American government, the U.S. Congress, faith based groups and other concerned groups who helped in passing the provisions on conflict minerals.

Conflict minerals, especially in Eastern Congo, provide the source of funding that allows armed militias to continue acts of terror, particularly widespread sexual violence and rape, while causing countless deaths.

Canada Holds Up Congo’s Debt Cancellation July 1st, 2010

Congo Street Child

Street Child in Congo DR

The World Bank announced yesterday that it was postponing the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-awaited debt cancellation, even though the country has qualified. The postponement has come about at the request of Canada, because Canadian mineral firm First Quantum is in dispute with the government of DRC over mineral rights.

The DRC has been waiting for debt relief for 7 years, while the IMF and World Bank have satisfied themselves that the country has met numerous economic conditions. Politics has come into play before – last year the IMF held up DRC’s progress through the debt relief scheme because the country was proposing to take loans from China. Congo and China agreed to reduce the amount and terms of the loans late last year.

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UN Human Rights Commissioner Decries Killing of Top Congolese Human Rights Defender June 3rd, 2010

Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, a long-time and deeply committed human rights defender in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been killed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed shock and great sadness at the news of the Mr. Chebeya’s death. His body was found on the outskirts of Kinshasa on Wednesday. Human rights organizations in Kinshasa reported his disappearance after he was summoned to police headquarters the previous day.

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Human Rights Watch Report on Congo says UN Mission Needs to Protect Civilians December 14th, 2009

drc1209A United Nations-supported military offensive in eastern Congo has led to more than fourteen hundred civilian murders this year by both Congolese troops and rebels according a Human Rights Watch report released December 13. The report, titled “You Will Be Punished: Attacks on Civilians in Eastern Congo,” documents the deliberate killing of more than 1,400 civilians between January and September 2009. The killings occurred during during two Congolese army operations against a Rwandan Hutu militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Many advocacy groups say that the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo has failed and must be reformed to protect civilians adequately. The situation is extremely violent, with various rebel groups supporting their operations with proceeds from stolen minerals. The area is rich in resources such as gold, diamonds, copper, tin and the metallic ore coltan, used in the manufacture of cell phones.

The report was issued as the Security Council prepares to vote on a renewal of the peacekeeping mission mandate of United Nations Organization Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) on December 21.

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Conflict Mineral Trade Act 2009 Introduced in the US House of Representatives November 20th, 2009


Oblates visit a war refugee camp in DRC

On November 19, the United States House of Representatives introduced the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009. The bill was introduced by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Washington), with co-sponsorship from Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Frank Wolf (R-Virginia). A coalition of faith based organizations and international nonprofit organizations concerned about conflict stemming from minerals extraction are encouraged by this Congressional action. The bill has also received support from various stakeholders in the electronics industry. To make this bill a reality, though, you need to urge your Congressional Representative to cosponsor the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009 (HR 4128). Find your Representative on the website.

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Congo Conflict Mineral Disclosure Act Introduced May 8th, 2009

conflict-minerals-banner_677x200Companies registered in the US that sell products using columbite-tantalite (also known as coltan), cassiterite or derivatives from minerals from Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries will be required to annually disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission the origin of those minerals. This provision is contained in new legislation called the Congo Conflict Mineral Act 2009 (S.891) introduced on April 23 the by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Russ Feingold (D-WI).

The sale of minerals is linked to the funding of killings, atrocities and rapes crimes committed by armed groups in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo Conflict Mineral Act brings accountability and transparency to the importation and sale of mineral products from Congo by disclosure of their origin. Cassiterite, Colton and tantalite are minerals commonly used in cell phones, laptop computers and other electronic products used by millions of people in the United States and other developed countries.

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