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Greenpeace Africa reacts to verdict on DR Congo torture case in Yalisika

Press release - December 16, 2015
Kinshasa, 16 December 2015 - Five policemen and soldiers have finally been convicted for their role in a vicious attack against community members protesting against an industrial logging company in a Congolese village in 2011, but many involved are still to be held accountable, says Greenpeace Africa.

The men were found guilty by a court in Kinshasa on Monday and sentenced to between two and three years in prison charges including torture. They were among 60 policemen and military personnel who entered the small village of Bosanga, located in Yalisika, in the Equateur province in May 2011 to quell protests against the company SIFORCO.

Serious human rights violations were subsequently committed, including rape, physical aggression, torture and destruction of property. 

A hand is placed on sawn wood in a Sodefor log park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than 21 million hectares of rainforest are currently allocated to the logging industry.  Most of DRC’s timber is exported to Europe, with France and Belgium currently the largest importers.  Expansion of logging into remaining areas of intact forests in the DRC will destroy globally critical carbon reserves and impact biodiversity.  Beyond environmental impacts, logging in the region exacerbates poverty and leads to social conflicts. Logging is viewed by the World Bank and other donors as a way to alleviate poverty and promote economic development.

Greenpeace welcomes the condemnation of the perpetrators of the attack; however we are very surprised by the sentences that do not reflect the gravity of the violence and crimes suffered by the community”said Victorine Sirri Che Thöner, the head of Greenpeace Africa’s Congo Forest campaign.

“We are also concerned that some individuals involved in the attack and identified during the investigations have not been brought to trial and SIFORCO was not held responsible for its implication”. said Victorine, “Unfortunately the only current route for appeal is to redress the issues of reparations for victims"

The Court did not convict SIFORCO or assign any liability despite acknowledging that torture was committed by the military in the company’s vehicle. The convictions come after many lengthy judicial delays over a period of years. To date only 14 of the 45 victims have been granted the right to seek reparations.

The villagers were protesting against the company, claiming it had not delivered on promises made in 2005 and revised in 2009, to provide infrastructure and services to the community in exchange for logging their forests. Faced with community opposition, SIFORCO called in the help of local authorities and security.

This trial sends out a signal that industrial logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not contribute to local development but instead generates multiple recurring conflicts with local communities” said Che Thöner. “

Yalisika is in the Bumba region in the Congo Basin - home to the world’s second largest tropical forest after the Amazon, which is increasingly under threat from industrial logging companies - the majority foreign-owned - who plunder the DRC’s rich resources with impunity.

Stand with communities of the Congo Basin to demand their home is protected. Stop the "050" forest law that favors industrial loggers over local communities. SIGN the petition!


Press contacts:

Victorine Sirri Che Thӧner, Congo Basin Forest Campaign Leader, Greenpeace Africa, , +237 676621651/679218220

Najia Bounaim, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Africa, ">, +90 531 836 86 35, +27 799 304 743