Torture by Authorities in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [DRC]  [other countries]

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                             

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - is slowly recovering from two decades of decline. Conflict that began in August 1998 has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of more than 5 million people from violence, famine, and disease.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Much of this trafficking occurs within the country’s unstable eastern provinces and is perpetrated by armed groups outside government control. Indigenous and foreign armed militia groups, notably, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), various local militia (Mai-Mai), and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), continued to abduct and forcibly recruit Congolese men, women, and children to serve as laborers, porters, domestics, combatants, and in sexual servitude. CNDP recruiters, fraudulently promising high-paying employment, enlisted Congolese men and boys from Rwanda-based refugee camps, as well as Rwandan adults and children from towns in western Rwanda, for forced labor and forced soldiering in the DRC.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out the more recent 2020 country report here and possibly a later, full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page to see which aspect(s) of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


The international community must immediately address ongoing conflict, military occupation, lawlessness, and impunity for ongoing acts of genocide and crimes against humanity, including widespread sexual violence, in DRC

Keith Harmon Snow, Survivors' Rights International (SRI), Press Release: June 2, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

EQUATEUR PROVINCE: Eyewitnesses reports from different parts of Equateur indicate both transient soldiers and resident DRC government FAC (Forces Armee Congolaise) soldiers looting and destroying property; confiscating and occupying homes and schools; conscripting and brutalizing males for forced labor; raping women and girls; and abducting women and girls for prolonged periods of sexual slavery.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 20 March 2019]

[accessed 25 June 2019]


There were reports that forced labor, including forced child labor, regularly occurred throughout the country. Violations included bonded labor, domestic servitude, and slavery. In the artisanal (nonindustrial) mining sector, individuals took on debt from intermediaries and dealers to acquire food, supplies, and mining tools and equipment, often at high interest rates despite low wages. Miners who failed to provide sufficient ore to pay debt were at risk of becoming perennial debtors. The government continued to try to formalize the artisanal mining sector but did not attempt to regulate this practice. In the East RMGs continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women, and children to serve as laborers, porters, domestic laborers, and combatants (see section 1.g.). In eastern mining regions, there were reports that armed groups violently attacked mining communities and surrounding villages and held men, women, and children captive for trafficking, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. In North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, some members of FARDC units and RMGs taxed or, in some cases, controlled mining activities in gold, coltan, wolframite, and cassiterite mines.

Some police officers arrested individuals arbitrarily to extort money from them (see section 1.d.). There were reports of police forcing those who could not pay to work until they “earned” their freedom.

The government did not effectively enforce laws prohibiting forced or compulsory labor and took no action against those who used forced labor and abducted civilians for forced labor.


Children were also the victims of exploitation in the worst forms of child labor, many of them in agriculture, illicit activities, and domestic work. Children mined diamonds, gold, cobalt, coltan, wolframite, copper, and cassiterite under hazardous conditions. In the mining regions of Upper Katanga, Kasai Oriental, Kasai Central, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces, children sifted, cleaned, sorted, transported heavy loads and dug for minerals underground. In many areas of the country, children between the ages of five and 12 broke rocks to make gravel.

Parents often used children for dangerous and difficult agricultural labor. Families unable to support their children occasionally sent them to live with relatives who treated them as domestic slaves, subjecting them to physical and sexual abuse.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Formal protections against economic exploitation are poorly enforced, and most Congolese are informally employed. Although the law prohibits all forced or compulsory labor, such practices are common and include forced child labor in mining, street vending, domestic service, and agriculture. Some government forces and other armed groups force civilians to work for them, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers remains widespread.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 17 April 2019]

[accessed 26 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 306]

In 2017, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) were removed from the UN’s list of state armed forces that use child soldiers. (34) However, the UN Mission for the Stabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) estimates that there are as many as 125 indigenous and foreign non-state armed groups operating within the DRC. (33) Some of these armed groups—including Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), Kamuina Nsapu Mayi Mayi groups, Nduma Défense du Congo (NDC/Renove), Nyatura, Raia Mutomboki, and other armed groups—continued to abduct and recruit children for use in armed conflict. (27; 29; 35; 31; 3)

UNICEF and other international organizations estimate that 40 percent to 70 percent of the militias in central DRC include children, some as young as age 5. (27) Research indicates that there was ongoing collaboration between members of the FARDC and non-state armed groups known for recruiting children, including coordinating operations or selling arms and munitions. (4; 36; 37; 38; 33; 39)

Children may sometimes join armed groups or engage in child labor in artisanal mines hoping to earn money for school-related expenses. (2; 16; 17; 40; 27; 41; 42; 19) Although there is strong evidence of children engaged in armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced labor in mining, there is a lack of information on the overall nature of child labor because a comprehensive, stand-alone, child labor survey has never been conducted in the DRC. (10).

Eastern Congo: Kidnapped Boy Returns From Slavery

World Food Programme, Dungu, 18 March 2009

[accessed 30 January 2011]

Dieudonné Nzatala hugged the son he’d given up for dead and wept. Children taken by the LRA are rarely seen again. If children do return, they are often mentally and spiritually damaged. Many are forced to bear arms, rape, loot and kill. The young girls usually come back pregnant. Dieudonné, his wife and their four remaining children held an impromptu funeral for 17-year-old Dagumba.

SEARCH FOR FRESH RECRUITS - On the morning of September 17 a group of LRA fighters flooded into Duru in search of food, supplies and fresh recruits. “One hundred and eight children were taken from Duru,” Dieudonné said. “Sixty from that one school alone.”  The students were forced to walk north for two days, into the bush of Garamba National Park near the Sudanese border where the LRA had their camps.  “They told us they wanted to train us as soldiers,” Dagumba said during an interview at the Ugandan army camp where he is receiving medical treatment for his swollen feet. Instead, Dagumba says, he was made to work as a slave – hoeing fields, carrying loads and building shelters in the LRA camp.

Preventing the Use of Child Soldiers: the Role of the International Criminal Court

Shelly Whytman, Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Botswana, Groupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité GRIP, 18/05/2004

[accessed 18 July 2013]

[accessed 18 July 2013]

[page 3]

THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO - It has been reported by UNICEF that as many as one-third of the DRC’s children have been forced to take up arms.  According to the United Nations, the armed forces using child soldiers within the DRC are:  the DRC Government Forces (FAC), the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD)-National, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD)-ML, Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), Lendu Militias, Patrick Masunzu’s forces, Ex-FAR/Interahamwe, and Mai Mai militias.

Child Soldier Use 2003: A Briefing for the 4th UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict: CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE (DRC)

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, January 2004

[accessed 30 January 2011]

GOVERNMENT FORCES - The Congolese Armed Forces (FAC) continued to have children in their ranks despite commitments to demobilization.  Only 280 FAC child soldiers had been released by August 2003, out of a total of 1,500 children scheduled for demobilization from July 2001. According to Amnesty International, the Congolese Government appeared not to be actively recruiting child soldiers into the regular armed forces, but it provided military support to armed groups such as Mai-Mai and the Rassamblement congolais pour la dmocratie-mouvement de libration (RCD-ML), which continued to recruit child soldiers. From January 2003, the Mai-Mai, most of whom are aligned to the government, continued to recruit and use child soldiers. Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (Coalition) members in DRC detected heavy recruitment of children by the Mai-Mai between March and August 2003 in Walungo, Mwenga, Shabunda, Fizi and Buyankiri, in South-Kivu.

Children at War

Anayat Durrani, IN FOCUS, Planned Parenthood® Federation of America, 11.18.03

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

"We were told to kill people by forcing them to stay in their homes while we burned them down," says 15-year-old Kalami, a six-year veteran serving in one of the armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. "One day, my friends and I were forced by our commanders to kill a family, to cut up their bodies... My life is lost. I have nothing to live for."

From schoolboy to soldier

Hamilton Wende, BBC News, Ituri Province DRC, 20 September, 2003

[accessed 30 January 2011]

I met Manja just after he had walked in alone out of the rain. He carried nothing with him but a sleeveless nylon jacket and his memories.

"I heard that there were other boys without parents who were living here," Manja says in the high-pitched voice of a 12-year-old.   "I decided to leave the militia and join them. I left my gun there. I told them I was suffering, but they said I had to stay, so I went away secretly."   He walked for two days to reach the safety of this centre.   "I left in the evening, just before sunset. I came here all the way on foot, but sometimes other civilians gave me a lift on a bicycle."

"I was farming," Manja told us. "One day I went away to the market. There was fighting in my village that day, and everybody scattered. When I came home there was no-one, everybody was gone."   He joined a group of people heading south, fleeing from their Lendu attackers.   He found himself utterly alone, without anyone willing, or able, to help him.   "I don't know where my father and mother are," he said. "I had nothing to eat. I joined the gunmen to get food.

Sham demobilisation hides rise in Congo's child armies

Rory Carroll, Africa correspondent, The Guardian, 9 September 2003 -- Accounts collated by Amnesty International

[accessed 30 January 2011]

Armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have stepped up their recruitment of child soldiers in expectation of the civil war continuing despite the peace accord, Amnesty International says.  Boys and girls as young as eight are being mobilised in their thousands to murder and plunder -undermining the hope that after five years the conflict is winding down, its report, Children at War, says.

The Use of Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Human Rights Watch

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo has used child soldiers to support his military since 1996. As the rebel leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL), he recruited thousands of young child soldiers, known as "Kadogo," or "the little ones," to support his military campaign against the Mobutu government. Despite pledges from the Congolese government to demobilize children from the FAC since the end of the 1996-1997 war and the establishment of several fledgling demobilization programs, the Kabila government has continued to recruit children as young as seven years old for military service. While no reliable statistics were available regarding the number of child soldiers, the total number is likely to be at least several thousand.

Amnesty International Labels Recruitment of Child Soldiers War Crime, Says Demobilization Efforts Ineffective in DRC

Ryan M. Taylor, U.S. Newswire, New York, Sept. 9, 2003

[accessed 5 September 2014]

In a new report released today Amnesty International (AI) criticized demobilization of child soldiers in eastern Congo as timid and ineffective, claiming that among certain rebel groups demobilization is merely a public relations ploy that often ends in the re-recruitment of those recently demobilized.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [DOC]

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 29 September 2006$FILE/G0644909.doc

[accessed 27 February 2011]

[79] While noting with appreciation the ratification by the State party of relevant ILO Conventions, as well as the adoption of an appropriate legislative framework, the Committee is concerned at the lack of data on the issue of economic exploitation of children. The Committee is also concerned at information according to which children, in particular indigenous children, are exploited economically. Finally, the Committee is concerned at reports that children, in particular from the Democratic Republic of Congo and indigenous children, are recruited to clean sewers and latrines manually, which is extremely hazardous to their health.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 8 June 2001

[accessed 30 January 2011]

[64] The Committee is deeply concerned at the direct and indirect impact of the armed conflict on almost all children in the State party. The Committee is concerned at the deliberate killing of children by armed forces of the State party, armed forces of other State parties that have participated in the conflict and by other armed groups, and by the continuing impunity for such acts constituting very serious violations of children's rights. The Committee is concerned at, inter alia, the recruitment and use of children as soldiers by the State party and by other actors in the armed conflict, including children under 15. The Committee notes with appreciation the creation of a special bureau for the demobilization and re-integration of child soldiers (DUNABER), but is concerned about the effectiveness of this bureau.

[66] The Committee joins the State party in expressing concern at the prevalence of child labour, especially in informal sectors which frequently fall outside the protections afforded by domestic legislation (see paragraph 87 of the State party's report). The Committee is deeply concerned at the use of children to work in the Kasaï mines, in locations in Lubumbashi and in other dangerous work environments.

[68] The Committee is deeply concerned by information, including for example in the State party's report, of the trading, trafficking, kidnapping and use for pornography of young girls and boys within the State party, or from the State party to another country, and that domestic legislation does not sufficiently protect children from trafficking.

The Protection Project - Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[Last accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - Sexual violence was used as a weapon of war by nearly all the factions involved in the conflict in the eastern DRC. Groups frequently and systematically raped women and girls in order to terrorize communities into accepting their control or to punish them for giving real or supposed aid to opposing forces. Combatants abducted women and took them to base camps, where they were forced to be sex slaves or domestic servants. Rape and other sexual crimes were not carried out solely by armed groups in the DRC; police, government authorities, and common criminals were “taking advantage of the prevailing climate of impunity and the culture of violence against women and girls.”

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 30 January 2011]


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – There was no information available on reports from late 2004 that persons were recruiting children in South Kivu for use as child soldiers.

Internal trafficking for forced labor and forced sexual exploitation occurred and child prostitution were reported. The majority of reported trafficking occurred in the northeast and east.

In eastern parts of the country, armed groups operating outside government control continued to kidnap men, women, and children and force them to provide menial labor and sexual services for members of armed groups  In addition armed groups abducted children to serve as combatants in areas under their control.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 30 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - The Ministry of Family Affairs and Labor began to implement an action plan against sexual exploitation of persons, and the Government has attended regional meetings on trafficking and sought to coordinate with neighboring governments to address the problem.

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Torture by Authorities in  [DRC]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [DRC]  [other countries]