Working for the rights of indigenous communities in DRC
Batwa and Bambuti are the indigenous Pygmy groups living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Batwa and Bambuti are often marginalized and poor and face a lot of discrimination. When it comes to access to justice, these populations are most times very vulnerable. They have also suffered a great deal in the conflicts of eastern DRC.
PIDP (Programme Intégré pour le Développement du Peuple Pygmé – PIDP SHRIKA LA BAMBUTI) is a Congolese organization working for the rights of indigenous peoples. In 2012, KIOS along with two other organizations HURIDOCS and IPACC started funding the work of PIDP. KIOS supported the human rights work of PIDP, with a geographic focus on East and South Kivu, until 2016.
PIDP strengthened especially its human rights monitoring network with KIOS support. In practice, this meant that members of the indigenous communities were trained to monitor and document human rights violations. In addition, a unique electronic documentation system, an electronic database, was developed during this work. All the human rights violation cases are documented into the electronic database. The database has drawn attention also on the international arena. It has facilitated the compilation of timely data on the situation of indigenous peoples in DRC and also made it possible to transfer the information from the grassroots to international level, for example to the UN.
Through the work of PIDP the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide has received vital information of human rights violations targeted against Bambuti and Batwa and of the threat of genocide. Due to strengthened reporting and advocacy work of PIDP many organizations and UN representatives have paid special attention to the situation of the indigenous communities in DRC.
The information compiled by PIDP has also reached regional and local levels. The local authorities today are more aware of the human rights violations that Bambuti and Batwa face and are more apt to respond to the situation. PIDP has also cooperated with the Ministry of Justice in DRC so that the security needs of the indigenous populations would be better addressed at the national level.
Moreover, Bambuti and Batwa are more aware of their rights today because of PIDP. The community leaders and monitors trained by PIDP are now informed on the international law and the rights of the indigenous peoples. They have strengthened their cooperation with the local authorities accordingly and are in touch in case the rights of their communities are violated.
For more information contact KIOS expert Elina Vuola elina[at]kios.fi