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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Combatants learn the law

16-03-2000 News Release 00/09

A presentation on international humanitarian law was given by the ICRC on 9 March in Kalemie, in territory controlled by the armed opposition to President Kabila. The participants were officers and non-commissioned officers on the staff of the Goma branch of the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD).

This was the first such presentation for RCD combatants in eastern Congo since July 1998, just before the outbreak of the country's current internal conflict. Subjects discussed included the conduct of combatants, the mandate, activities and working principles of the ICRC and the Red Cross in general, and the protective value of the red cross emblem.

The 62 participants — who included a dozen police officials — asked questions about a number of subjects such as preventing war, ICRC work in prisons, and armed forces medical services. Their keen interest demonstrated that there is a need for instruction in international humanitarian law, particularly in this unstable part of northern Katanga province.