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9 Jun 2015

Shira Stanton & Jean-Philippe Kot, Avocats Sans Frontières

Justice in Fragile States: Seeking corporate legal accountability in the domestic courts of Democratic Republic of Congo

Almost ten years after the lawsuit against Anvil Mining was brought before a Lubumbashi military court, a new conflict between a logging company, SIFORCO, and a community affected by the company’s activities is before a domestic court of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) The trial started 5 June in Mbandaka, in DRC’s western province of Equateur, and represents a significant step forward to ensure justice for an affected population....In the case against SIFORCO, tensions arose following the company's failure to execute contractual obligations related to its "social responsibility" agreement...In the early morning hours of 2 May 2011, a group of around sixty DR Congolese armed forces and police descended on the village of Bosanga in Yalisika. Driving trucks provided by SIFORCO, they proceeded to rape multiple women in the village, beat up villagers, and destroy people’s property...Fifteen village residents were arbitrarily arrested, taken in the SIFORCO truck to the nearest prison...The trial will address the extent of control and responsibility a company must have over a crime for it to be held legally accountable, and will clarify how a company can be “vicariously” liable for a crime committed by security forces acting on the company’s behest...