Prevalence

There are an estimated 762,900 people in modern slavery in Democratic Republic of the Congo – this is equivalent to 1.13% of the entire population

Decades of political instability and a violent civil war have left many citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) vulnerable to modern slavery. Prolonged conflict has caused the internal displacement of 2.6 million persons (Internally Displaced Persons – IDPs),1  65 percent of whom are in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.2  IDPs are exposed to greater insecurity and are at higher risk of exploitation. 3

Products known to be produced using modern slavery 4

CassiteriteColtanCopperDiamondsGold

Violent rebellion in Katanga province in early 2014 displaced up to 400,000 people, forcing them to migrate to other towns and provinces to find work.5  Large numbers of men working in mines are trapped in a system of debt bondage,6 having to borrow money from their employers to buy the tools required to work in the mines, as well for food and accommodation.

Forced labour of men and boys in mining and agriculture and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls are the most prevalent forms of modern slavery in the DRC. The provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Orientale, and Katanga are home to significant deposits of gold, tin, coltan and tantalum which are mostly controlled by rebel groups and corrupt army officials.7

Often called ‘Conflict Minerals’, tin, tungsten, gold and tantalum, or coltan, originating from the DRC are used by manufacturers in portable consumer electronics, medical devices and advanced aeronautics.8 320 000 children are estimated to be working in artisanal mines.9

During 2013, armed groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), Mayi Mayi Kata Katanga and Mayi Mayi Morgan, as well as elements of the Congolese national army (FARDC), continued to use threats to force men and children to mine for minerals, turn over their mineral production, pay illegal “taxes,” or carry looted goods from mining villages.10

Children are highly vulnerable to recruitment into armed groups, both by abduction or coercion where they are used as porters, cooks, escorts and fighters.11 Ten percent of the world’s 300 000 child soldiers are Congolese, 40 percent of which are girls forced into marriages with rebel fighters.12  Throughout 2013, 163 children, including 22 girls, were rescued from the rebel group Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga, where they were held as child soldiers.13  Throughout 2014, men, women and children continue to be kidnapped in village raids and held as slaves by militias in eastern DRC.14  In April and May 2014, 267 women and girls suffered sexual violence by armed groups.15  Women and girls are often forced to labour in the mines during the day, and are exploited as sex slaves by militia men at night.16

Exploitation exists outside armed conflict, with children forced to leave the household due to poverty or mistreatment by their parents or because of accusation of witchcraft. This can leave them vulnerable to exploitation.”17

Forced and child marriage is also prevalent, varying from a legal union, to commercial sexual exploitation and rape, with some members of rebel groups claiming women and girls as their wives by raping them.18

Government response

ScoreSurvivors are supportedCriminal justiceCoordination and accountabilityAttitudes, social systems and institutionsBusiness and government
C22.23133.312.50

As a country in conflict, there are very few functioning basic social services in DRC, with the majority of services implemented by NGOs and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). MONUSCO is the only functioning law enforcement body meaning they have taken on typical government responsibilities.19

Despite having laws in place that criminalise modern slavery, no action is taken against those who used forced labour and abducted civilians for forced labour. There is no evidence of child labour investigations.20  In April 2014, the government launched a three-month basic training course on law enforcement for 335 police officers including the mining police, special police for the protection of women and children and the community police.21  However, the weakness of the judiciary, whose officials are regularly subjected to threats, intimidation and interference when they attempt to investigate or prosecute crimes committed by the military, has meant that modern slavery crimes have gone unpunished.22

During 2014, the government established a national working group to oversee the implementation of a UN backed action plan to end abuses against children by its armed forces.23  The government also works with MONUSCO to ensure the safe repatriation of foreign child soldiers.24  Between April and June 2014, 101 children were demobilised from armed groups by MONUSCO.25  There is no inter-ministerial body to address the trafficking of adults.26

Since 2012, the government has introduced legislation, and tightened requirements for mining and mineral trading companies to ensure the minerals they are exporting to global markets are “conflict free”. The government immediately suspended the license of two Chinese owned mineral export houses operating in North Kivu, highlighting its commitment to enforce this legislation.27

Through the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition, global electronic companies have committed to taking proactive steps to trace their supply chains and ensure they are free from conflict minerals mined in the DRC.28

Vulnerability

Slavery policyHuman rightsState stabilityDiscriminationDevelopment
78.87880.764.383.9

Despite being a mineral rich nation, the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country’s political instability, weak infrastructure, lack of basic services and large number of IDPs exacerbate the vulnerability of the Congolese to modern slavery. It is estimated that 3.8 million people died in the DRC between 1998 and 2004 and many more were displaced.29  Armed conflict is the reason for displacement for 90 percent of these persons.30  A peace deal and the formation of a transitional government in 2003, have not fully curbed the violence which continues unabated in certain areas.31

The DRC’s poverty and lack of social services, particularly lack of schools in the eastern part of the country, has left many children vulnerable to modern slavery in the mining sector. Targeted by armed groups for their compliance and small bodies, which can reach into the most dangerous parts of the mines, children are easy prey.32 Coupled with limited education, and a severe lack of livelihood options mean many also commit themselves to exploitative work in the mines or join militia groups.

Recommendations

Government

  • Scale up the demobilization and reintegration of children in armed conflict.
  • In coordination with MONUSCO, strengthen law enforcement throughout the country, particularly in eastern DRC, by providing training to officials and prioritising raising awareness of the illegality of the activities going on in eastern DRC.
  • Provide support services including shelters for victims of modern slavery.
  • End impunity for officials who break the law, particularly members of the Congolese army.

Business

Companies sourcing minerals from the DRC, including, Nintendo, Canon, Nikon, HTC and Sharp, should:

  • Follow the example of Intel, HP, Philips, and Scan disk (among others),33 to take proactive steps to trace supply chains and ensure they are free from conflict minerals.
  • Encourage private investment to develop infrastructure and social services, in mining in the eastern provinces of DRC.
“I was back in my village but my neighbour betrayed me. People recognized me and started shouting and abusing me because I was part of the group that looted the village last year. I left without saying goodbye to my parents and went to Commander Nkusi. He welcomed me back in the group without even beating me.”
Former child soldier speaking of the stigma he faced when returning to his village, MONUSCO 2013.
In Child Recruitment by Armed Groups in DRC, From January 2012 to August 2013, (MONUSCO, 2013), p. 13, accessed 08/09/14: monusco.unmissions.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=DazRcHfpAJo%3d&tabid=10701&mid=13689&language=en-US

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Footnotes

  1. “Democratic Republic of the Congo: Internally Displaced People and Returnees”, Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, accessed 03/09/14, July 2013: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/DRC%20Factsheet%20Population%20Movement%20_english_2%20eme%20trimestre%202013.pdf
  2. As above
  3. “Congo-Kinshasa: Dangers Rise for DRC Refugees and Internally Displaced People”, All Africa, September 9, 2013, accessed 03/09/14: http://allafrica.com/stories/201309091389.html
  4. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, List of Goods Produced by Child Labor of Forced Labor, (United States Department of Labor, 2013), accessed 03/09/14: http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/ ; See also Faced with a gun what can you do? (Global Witness, 2009) p. 20, accessed 06/10/14: https://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/report_en_final_0.pdf
  5. David Smith, “Human catastrophe in DRC’s Katanga province being ignored, warns UN”, The Guardian, January 31, 2014: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jan/30/drc-democratic-republic-congo-katanga-humanitarian-catastrophe-un
  6. Nicholas Garret, Artisanal Cassiterite Mining and Trade in North Kivu: Implication for Poverty Reduction and Security, (ASM Communities and Small Scale Mining, 2008), p. 12, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.rcsglobal.com/documents/CASM_WalikaleBooklet2.pdf
  7. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 – Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Narrative, (US Department of State, 2014) accessed 03/09/14: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2014/226703.htm
  8. Free the Slaves, The Congo Report: Slavery in Conflict Minerals, (Free the Slaves & One Square Foundation, 2011), p. 6, accessed 04/08/14: http://www.freetheslaves.net/Document.Doc?id=243
  9. Corydon Ireland, “Darkness visible”, Harvard Gazette, March 7 2013: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/03/darkness-visible/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=03.08.13%2520%281%29
  10. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 – Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Narrative, (US Department of State, 2014) pp.139-142 accessed 03/09/14: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2014/226703.htm
  11. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (United Nations Secretary General, June 2014) p. 13, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/450
  12. Corydon Ireland, “Darkness visible” Harvard Gazette, March 7 2013: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/03/darkness-visible/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_ medium=email&utm_campaign=03.08.13%2520%281%29
  13. Laura Smith-Spark, “82 child soldiers saved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – U.N. Force” CNN Africa, August 17, 2013: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/17/world/africa/dr-congo-child-soldiers/
  14. “Sexual slavery rife in DRC, says MSF”, The Guardian, 23 July 2014: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/23/sexual-slavery-democratic-republic-congo-msf
  15. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (United Nations Secretary General, 2014) p. 11, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/450
  16. Diana Salena Jenkins, Preliminary Assessment of Trafficking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), (Human Rights Project, UCLA, 2012) p. 4, accessed 08/09/14: http://iccforum.com/media/sdj_human_rights_project/2012-03_SDJ_Human_Rights_Project_at_UCLA_Report-Trafficking_in_the_DRC.pdf
  17. Mark Tran, “Witchcraft claims against children in Congo DRC reflect curse of poverty,” The Guardian, January 25, 2013, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jan/24/witchcraft-children-congo-drc-poverty
  18. As above, p. 19
  19. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2013 Democratic Republic of the Congo Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2013), p. 137, accessed 08/09/14: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210738.pdf
  20. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Human Rights Report 2013 – Democratic Republic of the Congo, (US Department of State, 2013) p. 34, accessed 21/05/2014: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/220312.pdf
  21. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (United Nations Secretary General, 2014), p. 14, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/450
  22. Faced with a gun what can you do? War and the militarisation of Mining in Eastern Congo, (Global Witness, 2009) p. 26, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/report_en_final_0.pdf
  23. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, Trafficking in Persons Report 2014: Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Narrative, (US Department of State, 2014), pp. 134-137, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2014/226703.htm
  24. As above
  25. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (United Nations Secretary General, June 2014) p. 4, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/450
  26. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, Trafficking in Persons Report 2014: Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2014), pp: 134-137, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2014/226703.htm
  27. Coming Clean – How Supply Chain Controls Can Stop Congo’s Minerals Trade Fuelling Conflict, (Global Witness, 2012), pp. 9-10, accessed 08/09/14: http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/120531_Coming%20Clean_lowres.pdf
  28. “Conflict Minerals Company Rankings” Raise Hope for Congo, last modified 2014: http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/conflict-minerals-company-rankings
  29. “Congo Civil War”, Global Security: last modified 10/04/14: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/congo.htm
  30. As above
  31. “Democratic Republic of the Congo” BBC Africa, July 16 2014, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13283212
  32. The Congo Report: Slavery in Conflict Minerals, (Free the Slaves & One Square Foundation, 2011), p. 22, accessed 04/09/14: http://www.freetheslaves.net/Document.Doc?id=243
  33. “2012 Conflict Minerals Company Rankings”,Raise Hope for Congo, last modified 2014: http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/conflict-minerals-company-rankings

Other reports

Country briefs

View detailed country briefs that describe the nature of problem, government responses, and action needed to address modern slavery in 32 countries.

Country results

View the prevalence, vulnerability and government response data of each country.

Regional profiles

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Survivors are identified, supported to exit and remain out of modern slavery
Criminal justice mechanisms address modern slavery
Coordination and accountability mechanisms for the central government are in place
Attitudes, social systems and institutions that enable modern slavery are addressed
Businesses and governments through their public procurement stop sourcing goods and services that use modern slavery

Government response rating: AAA

Numerical range: 59 to 64

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of AAA are as follows:
The government has an implemented an effective and comprehensive response to all forms of modern slavery, with effective emergency and long-term reintegration victim support services, a strong criminal justice framework, high levels of coordination and collaboration, measures to address all forms of vulnerability, and strong government procurement policies and legislation to ensure that slavery is not present in business supply chains. There is no evidence of criminalisation or deportation of victims.

Government response rating: AA

Numerical range: 53 to 58

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of AA are as follows:
The government has implemented a comprehensive response to most forms of modern slavery, with strong victim support services, a robust criminal justice framework, demonstrated coordination and collaboration, measures to address vulnerability, and government procurement guidelines and/or supply chain policies or legislation to ensure that slavery is not present in business supply chains.

Government response rating: A

Numerical range: 47 to 52

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of A are as follows:
The government has implemented key components of a holistic response to some forms of modern slavery, with strong victim support services, a strong criminal justice framework, demonstrated coordination and collaboration, measures to address vulnerability, and may have taken action to ensure that government procurement policies do not encourage slavery.

Government response rating: BBB

Numerical range: 41 to 46

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of BBB are as follows:
The government has implemented key components of a holistic response to modern slavery, with victim support services, a strong criminal justice response, evidence of coordination and collaboration, and protections in place for vulnerable populations. Governments may be beginning to address slavery in supply chains of government procurement, or of businesses operating within their territory. There may be evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or cause victims to be deported.

Government response rating: BB

Numerical range: 35 to 40

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of BB are as follows:
The government has introduced a response to modern slavery, which includes short term victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalises some forms of modern slavery, a body to coordinate the response, and protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery.There may be evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or cause victims to be deported, and/or facilitate slavery.

Government response rating: B

Numerical range: 29 to 34

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of B are as follows:
The government has introduced a response to modern slavery, with limited victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalises some forms of modern slavery, (or has recently amended inadequate legislation and policies), a body or mechanisms that coordinate the response, and has policies that provide some protection for those vulnerable to modern slavery. There is evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or deport victims, and/or facilitate slavery. Services may be provided by International Organisations (IOs)/ NGOs with international funding, sometimes with government monetary or in-kind support.

Government response rating: CCC

Numerical range: 23 to 28

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of CCC are as follows:
The government has a response to modern slavery, with limited victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalises some forms of modern slavery, has a national action plan and/or national coordination body, and has policies that provide some protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery. There is evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or deport victims, and/ or facilitate slavery. Services may be largely provided by IOs/NGOs with international funding, with limited government funding or in-kind support.

Government response rating: CC

Numerical range: 17 to 22

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of CC are as follows:
The government has a limited response to modern slavery, with largely basic victim support services, a limited criminal justice framework, limited coordination or collaboration mechanism, and few protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery.There may be evidence that some government policies and practices facilitate slavery. Services are largely provided by IOs/NGOs with limited government funding or in-kind support.

Government response rating: C

Numerical range: 11 to 16

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of C are as follows:
The government response to modern slavery is inadequate, with limited and/or few victim support services, a weak criminal justice framework, weak coordination or collaboration, while little is being done to address vulnerability.There are government practices and policies that facilitate slavery. Services, where available, are largely provided by IOs/NGOs with little government funding or in-kind support.

Government response rating: D

Numerical range: <0 to 10

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of D are as follows:
The government has a wholly inadequate response to modern slavery, and/ or there is evidence of government sanctioned modern slavery. However, countries in this category may be experiencing high levels of poverty and internal conflict that may prevent, or hinder a response to modern slavery.

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