US campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the police in the Democratic Republic of Congo of executing 51 people and being responsible for the disappearance of 33 others.
The report, based on witness testimony, looks into alleged police abuses during Operation Likofi (which lasted from November 2013 to February 2014), launched to tackle criminal gangs known as kuluna in the capital Kinshasa.
“They went neighbourhood to neighbourhood, targeting suspected kuluna, often they didn’t carry out investigations to find out who really were the kuluna, and people who had nothing to do with the phenomenon were targeted,” explained Senior HRW researcher (DRC) in the Ida Sawyer.
The report details that in some cases, the police, often wearing masks would drag suspected gangs members from their homes at night and execute them in front of family members.
Others were taken without warrants to unknown locations, never to return.
The mother of young man forcibly disappeared in Operation Likofi spoke of her experience.
“They left with my son. And, now it’s been about a year since they took him away. He’s still missing, to this day,” she said.
The Interior Minister said that cases of misconduct were under investigation. However, a similar UN report detailing alleged police abuses during the same operation was rejected by the government.