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 © Amnesty International/Afrewatch

2nd July 2019, 12:41:05 UTC

Artisanal miners at risk as the army moves in.

Some 10,000 artisanal miners are at risk of serious human rights violations if forcibly removed by the army from a mining area owned by one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) largest cobalt producers, Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM). On 17 June 2019, the DRC army deployed up to 800 soldiers to the area. The artisanal miners were told that if they didn’t voluntarily leave the area by 2 July they would be forcibly removed.

The DRC army has a long history of excessive use of force, and its soldiers are not properly trained or equipped to carry out policing functions in accordance with international law and standards. Considering this, it is highly likely that they will commit serious human rights violations if they move to forcibly remove the artisanal miners. There have already been reports that the army has destroyed buying houses and temporary shelters.

In 2009, hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed in the village of Kawama during an operation by the mines police to remove artisanal miners on the Luiswishi mine. These are structural issues, which need to be addressed by the government in consultation with a range of stakeholders, including artisanal mining communities.

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