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Congo, The Democratic Republic of the: Provincial Assembly Revises Law on “Jungle Justice”

(Nov. 26, 2013) On November 20, 2013, the legislative assembly in Sud-Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) voted to revise the law of the province in order to end the practice of “jungle justice.” The amended law was then sent to the Governor to be promulgated. (Provincial Assembly Votes Against Jungle Justice in DRC, RADIO MAENDELEO (Nov. 22, 2013), World News Connection online subscription database, Doc. No.201311221477.1_985d001218112970.)

Jungle justice is a term used to refer to mob action taken to punish, often violently, someone alleged to have committed a crime, without the intervention of the courts or other authorities. (Let’s Stop Jungle Justice, DELL SOCIAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE (last visited Nov. 25, 2013).) While sometimes the crimes to which this informal form of justice is a response are ordinary ones, in other cases they relate to armed conflicts within states. Discussions of civil wars and other internecine fighting sometimes indicate that “jungle justice” has been meted out; armed groups have passed sentences for acts related to the conflict without regard to proper legal process. (Jonathan Somer, Jungle Justice: Passing Sentence on the Equality of Belligerents in Non-International Armed Conflict, 89 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF THE RED CROSS (2007).)

The DRC has suffered years of internal conflict, with armed bands and brutal attacks occurring in many regions, including Sud-Kivu. (Genocide and Mass Atrocity Warning: Democratic Republic of the Congo – the Kivus, GENOCIDE WATCH (Oct. 3, 2012) [scroll down to locate article].) Desire Habamungu, a member of the assembly of Sud-Kivu who supported ending “jungle justice,” stated that those committing crimes should now be warned that they will face legal action. He added that he wanted people to be “deeply sensitized” about the issue. (Provincial Assembly Votes Against Jungle Justice in DRC, supra.)