Holy See “deeply concerned” about Human Rights Violations in DR Congo

Mons. John Putzer, chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. Credit:

The Holy See is “deeply concerned” about human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva has said.

Speaking during the 54th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN) on Monday, October 9, Mons. John Putzer said the Vatican “condemns all acts of violence, especially those which result in the loss of life or in sexual assault.”

“The Holy See remains deeply concerned about the alarming human rights situation in the DRC,” Mons. Putzer said.

Making reference to the Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to the Central African nation earlier this year, the Vatican diplomat recalled that during his visit, the Holy Father “condemned armed violence, massacres, rapes, the destruction and occupation of villages, and the looting of fields and cattle.”

The Holy Father had also expressed concern about the “recruitment of child soldiers and increasing attacks by militant groups, as well as reported attacks by the national army,” the Vatican diplomat said during the October 9 event in Geneva.


Violence in Eastern DRC has created a severe humanitarian crisis with more than 5.5 million people displaced from their homes, reportedly the third-highest number of internally displaced people in the world.

More than 120 armed groups are fighting for control of the Eastern Congo, a region rich with natural resources, Reuters reported.

In February this year, the Catholic charity Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) warned that the war in the Eastern part of DRC could transition to infighting within armed groups that had pitched camp in the Eastern part of the country.

In a report shared with ACI Africa, the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) warned of “a powder keg waiting to go off”, especially with what the entity described as a growing animosity among the armed groups.

The peace entity reported that the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels, who according to the Congolese government, are being supported by Rwanda, were increasing their area of influence further inland into the Central African country. The rebels were also said to have started in Nyiragongo, a territory in DRC’s North Kivu province.

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Members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have reportedly carried out several attacks on villages in the DRC.

In his October 9 address, Mons. Putzer called on the international community “not to underestimate the particularly grave threat posed by ADF’s continued attacks and growing extremist radicalization, highlighting attacks against Christian communities.”

The native of Wisconsin, USA who served in the Vatican diplomatic corps in the DRC before moving to Geneva further said, “Many victims of human rights violations do not receive a fair or speedy trial, if ever they receive one.”

He continued, “We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths that remain mostly unknown elsewhere.”

“What is happening here needs to be known,” Mons. Putzer said about DRC, adding that “the current peace processes, which I greatly encourage, need to be sustained by concrete deeds, and commitments should be maintained.”


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.