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«INVESTIGATIVE FIELD REPORT June 2013 Free the Slaves liberates slaves, helps them rebuild their lives, and transforms the social, economic and ...»

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Enslavement at South Kivu Mining Sites


June 2013

Free the Slaves liberates slaves, helps them rebuild their lives, and transforms

the social, economic and political forces that allow slavery to persist. We support

community-driven interventions in partnership with local groups that help people

to sustainable freedom and dismantle a region’s system of slavery. We convince governments, international development organizations and businesses to implement key changes required for global eradication. We document and disseminate leadingedge practices to help the anti-slavery movement work more effectively. We raise awareness and promote action by opinion leaders, decision makers and the public.

Free the Slaves is showing the world that ending slavery is possible.

Funding for Free the Slaves work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including this field research and report, is provided by the Open Square Charitable Gift Fund. Open Square’s Vision Statement: “We envision a world where women play a full and equal role in decision making processes at every level, where challenges are pro-actively embraced with inclusivity, authenticity and respect; where beauty is defined by the achievement of human potential.”


Free the Slaves (FTS) wishes to acknowledge, first and foremost, two South Kivu-based human rights organizations, Association Initiative — Développement Intégral (AIDI) and Justice Pour Tous (JPT), who carried out primary research and analysis of the findings for this report. FTS is deeply grateful to the many participants who were interviewed in the course of this research, many of whom are still in slavery, and hopes that this report will make a contribution toward their liberation. FTS is indebted to Dr. Cara Kennedy, an academic, slavery expert, and practicing psychologist, for authoring the report. FTS also wishes to acknowledge Jody Sarich and Zorba Leslie, former FTS staff members, who made important contributions to the design of this research, and Karen Stauss, Gabriel Deussom and Jack Kahorha, current FTS staff, who assisted in its implementation. Report editor: Terry FitzPatrick. Report design: Alison Mitchell. Finally, Free the Slaves sincerely thanks the Open Square Charitable Gift Fund, without whose support this effort would have been impossible.

© 2013 Free the Slaves




7 Historical Context 8 International Legal Context 9 Congolese Legal Context

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Mining is a key source of export income for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or Congo). Minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold are shipped to industrialized nations for use in electronics, jewelry manufacturing and many other industries. Congo’s mineral resources have the potential to help the nation’s economy expand and diversify. But at present, many Congolese people in mining zones toil in conditions of slavery, and much of the profit from mining benefits groups engaged in armed conflict.

This Free the Slaves field investigation was conducted to document the types, nature and scale of slavery at major mining sites in South Kivu province; to analyze the characteristics that cause Congolese workers to be vulnerable to enslavement; and to recommend solutions. The survey team findings are valuable information for a wide variety of actors working to improve the status of human rights in eastern DRC, including those focused on human trafficking, “conflict minerals,” child rights, gender-based violence and rural poverty.

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This report is not a prevalence study. It does not estimate the percentage of South Kivu’s total population that is in slavery. It exposes that widespread slavery exists at major mining sites. The South Kivu research builds on a 2011 Free the Slaves investigation in Congo’s North Kivu province that produced similar findings: The Congo Report: Slavery in Conflict Minerals.

Free the Slaves has begun implementation of community-based interventions in North Kivu province, and recommends that similar interventions be implemented to benefit residents of South Kivu province, as well.

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Conflict and slavery have plagued the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout its history. The people of this resource-rich country have paid an enormous price because of their region’s natural wealth.

During colonial occupation, an estimated 10 million Congolese died as Belgium ruthlessly extracted rubber and ivory. An estimated 5 million more died during wars, famines and disease outbreaks in the decades after Belgium’s withdrawal.1 The so-called “Great War of Africa” officially ended in 2002. However, people in eastern Congo still face terror, political and economic instability, human rights abuses and extreme exploitation. Armed groups continue to fight in order to profit from the sale of gold, cassiterite (tin), coltan (tantalum), and wolframite (tungsten). These “conflict minerals” are used in a wide range of products -- including computers, cell phones, medical devices and advanced aeronautics.2

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Free the Slaves Investigative Report June 2013: Congo’s Mining Slaves In 2011, Free the Slaves produced “The Congo Report: Slavery in Conflict Minerals,” documenting the nature and extent of slavery in North Kivu province. Some forms of slavery documented in North Kivu are directly linked to the conflict, including the use of child soldiers and the kidnapping of civilians for forced labor and sexual

slavery by illegal armed groups and uncontrolled army units. Other forms of slavery are familiar around the world:

debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery in the commercial sex trade, and child slavery that grows out of poverty and the lack of community-enforced norms respecting child rights. This current report updates the analysis of the global market and legal environments that surround the conflict minerals trade, and supplements data from North Kivu with an understanding of slavery in mines in South Kivu province.

Modern-day Slavery: People forced to work without pay beyond subsistence, under threat or actual violence, who cannot walk away.


The prohibition of slavery is a fundamental principle of international law, a peremptory norm from which no derogation is ever permitted, and a crime of universal jurisdiction -- illegal no matter where it occurs. The crime of slavery is codified in a number of international human rights treaties. Not only is the crime of slavery prohibited by international law, but so also are many of the abuses outlined in this report that make up the context of slavery, such as: the various punishments to which slaves are subjected, including the torture of debtors if they are unable to repay their lenders, and other forms of cruel or degrading treatment; the corrupt acts on the part of judicial authorities that promote peonage, such as arbitrary arrest or detention12 and other denials of due process of law.13 Particular forms of slavery are also specifically prohibited under international law, including forced labor; the forced marriage of girls and women; the trafficking of girls and young women who hope to enjoy legitimate employment but instead are trapped in forced prostitution by small bar and restaurant owners and their customers; as well as the use of child labor and child servitude.17 Most recently, to address the complex supply chain and widespread, global consumption of conflict minerals from Congo, the United States Congress passed an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, in which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was directed to issue rules requiring certain companies to disclose their use of conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold) in production.

8 Free the Slaves Investigative Report June 2013: Congo’s Mining Slaves In August 2012, the SEC adopted a new form and rule pursuant to section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires companies to determine the origin of minerals in their supply chain and, should their product contain minerals from Congo or its surrounding countries, file full disclosure with the SEC reporting on their due diligence efforts to eliminate any illegal profit to armed groups. While this is a landmark piece of legislation that stands to curb the multi-million dollar trade in illegally extracted minerals from eastern Congo, critics of its application note that it fails to address all of the root causes of the conflict and relies on the Congolese government to maintain conditions under which companies can practice due diligence and legitimately purchase the minerals they need.

Such conditions of transparency and legitimate trade do not as yet exist on a wide scale.

A separate law that applies to a wide range of multinational businesses operating in the U.S. state of California (one of the largest economies in the world) requires companies to report to the public what steps they are taking, if any, to eliminate slavery within their supply chains. In the meantime, human rights abuses, illegal trade, intimidation, exploitation, and slavery continue to characterize the mining industry in Congo.


The acts of modern-day slavery documented in this report violate the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which entered into force in 2006, and the Congolese penal code. Article 16 of the Constitution prohibits holding a person in slavery or slavery-like conditions. Article 61 lists the prohibition against slavery and servitude among those fundamental principles, rights that cannot be suspended even during a state of emergency. Likewise, the prohibition against imprisonment for debt—the implicit or explicit threat of which forms the basis for debt bondage slavery, as documented in this report—is a fundamental principle.21 In addition, Congo is a member of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGRL), an intergovernmental organization of the countries in the African Great Lakes Region. The ICGRL and its member countries have adopted the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals, the objectives of which are: to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral sourcing practices;

cultivate transparent mineral supply chains and sustainable corporate engagement in the mineral sector;

enable countries to benefit from their natural mineral resources; and prevent the extraction and trade of minerals from becoming a source of conflict, human rights abuses including forced labor, and insecurity.

Free the Slaves Investigative Report June 2013: Congo’s Mining Slaves


The second richest gold deposit in Congo, the Twangiza-Namoya gold belt, cuts across the South Kivu province from east to west, and is a site of particularly long historical conflict. The prominent gold mining centers of Kamituga and Lugushwa, as well as other sites in the Walungu and Mwenga Territories, including Nyamurhale, tap into the Twangiza-Namoya gold belt, and currently include a mixture of informal and formal gold production, as well as mines of other minerals. With very low levels of formal employment, the population of Congo is drawn to mining sites in search of work and means to support their lives. While much of the area is fertile for agriculture, the security situation in the countryside prevents confidence in the longer-term investment required for planting and harvesting, and farming methods have not been innovated to produce high-yield cash crops. Men in particular migrate toward mining areas from diverse horizons. In many cases their lives become entrenched in the mines as a result of debts they have contracted, or work they are obligated to carry out. Under such precarious and dire conditions, modern slavery thrives, and in its diverse forms takes in men, women, and children alike.

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• Understand the types, nature, and scale of slavery in select mines in South Kivu;

• Analyze the characteristics of those vulnerable to slavery in this context;

• Produce recommendations for the Congolese and U.S. governments, and for non-governmental institutions as well as community-based groups working to eradicate slavery and its consequences; and • Supplement data generated in research on slavery and the conditions prevailing in mines in North Kivu.


This research was conducted in the South Kivu province of eastern Congo. Three primary sites were selected, including mines in and around the cities of Kamituga and Lugushwa (Mwenga territory), and Nyamurhale (Walungu Territory). Each of these sites was selected because of the presence of a large number of men, women and children involved in artisanal mining activity, selling of minerals, domestic work, petty commerce, prostitution, and forced labor including that under the aegis of armed groups. Significant human rights abuses and the direct and/or indirect implication of the armed forces (FARDC) and other national and foreign armed groups characterized these areas. The role of armed force in making and enforcing “law,” and the associated impunity, also characterized these areas.

–  –  –

Free the Slaves (FTS) partnered with two Congolese organizations, Association Initiatives – Développement Intégral (AIDI) and Justice pour Tous (JPT), to conduct this research from June 2012 to January 2013. Researchers from AIDI/JPT were accompanied by a guide in each of the sites, to facilitate their entry into the sites and to introduce them and their purpose to the study informants in the mining sites.

The total estimated population of people working in and around the mines is 1,400 in Kamituga, 610 in Lugushwa, and 500 in Nyamurhale. A convenience sample of 931 persons was interviewed across all three sites.

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