DRC: Arrests for Treason Amid Debates on Reintroducing the Death Penalty

On February 13, 2024, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrested the provincial director of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) of North Kivu, along with two deputies and the civilian spokesperson for the Governor of North Kivu. These arrests took place in Goma, shortly before the individuals were transferred to Kinshasa on the same day.

This action was initiated by the military intelligence services, which have accused the arrested officials of possible collaboration with the M23 rebel group, supported by Rwanda. The military intelligence’s decision came after intercepting communications between the suspects and M23 rebels.

The newly appointed civilian spokesperson for the military governor of North Kivu, a member of Corneille Nangaa’s political party before resigning ahead of the elections, finds himself in a precarious position. Corneille Nangaa, previously head of the Electoral Commission, had founded an opposition party shortly before the December 20, 2023, elections in Congo. He later aligned with the M23 rebels in what he termed the Congo River Alliance. Recent footage showed Nangaa boasting about M23 forces controlling the strategic Goma-Bukavu road at Shasha.

When questioned about the arrests, the military spokesperson for the Governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Njike Kaiko, stated that the case against the arrested officials is now in the hands of the judiciary.

These arrests occur amidst ongoing clashes between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the M23 group, which is reportedly backed by Rwandan forces, in the vicinity of Sake, in the Masisi district of North Kivu.

Furthermore, on February 5 in Kinshasa, the Supreme Security Council of the DRC discussed security issues related to alleged treason within the military and security forces. The council recommended the temporary reinstatement of the death penalty for crimes of treason or collaboration with enemies of the state, particularly in the fight against the M23 group. The government spokesperson mentioned that the Justice Minister’s proposal on this matter has been received, but no official decision has been publicly announced yet.