The Senate of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) adopts a new law on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous Pygmy peoples


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The Senate of the Democratic Republic of Congo took a big step today in recognizing the customary rights of its indigenous population by passing a new law on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous Pygmy peoples.

The landmark law is the first-ever legislation in the country to formally recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, and will now be sent to President Félix Tshisekedi for signing. This law will have a lasting effect on land tenure security (https://bit.ly/3ztZm6g) and livelihoods of indigenous Pygmies, and also empower them to play a leading role in achieving DRC’s climate and conservation goals.

Patrick Kipalu, Africa Program Director for Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a global coalition of indigenous and community organizations that have advocated for the law, said:The adoption of this organic law on the fundamental principles of the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples in the DRC is pioneering and historic in a country where these groups have long suffered deep discrimination resulting in political, economic and social marginalization. This law will help the government address years of historic injustice against indigenous communities and the discrimination they have faced, and strengthen their contribution to the sustainable management of Congo’s vast rainforests.

Recognized nationally and internationally as indigenous Pygmy peoples, the way of life, cultural and spiritual identity of these communities are intrinsically linked to the forest massifs of the DRC, which represent 60 percent of the forests of the Congo Basin. These communities have developed traditional knowledge and practices that make them key players in the protection and preservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.

Yet despite their important role in protecting these forests, indigenous Pygmies in the DRC have faced massive human rights violations, such as eviction from their ancestral lands (https://bit.ly/3NJ0K9w) and exploitation in the form of forced labor in conditions akin to modern slavery, as well as cultural assimilation.

Patrick Saidi, Coordinator of the Dynamics of Indigenous Peoples Groups (DGPA) said: “This law is a victory that comes from more than 10 years of struggle and advocacy by civil society organizations at the parliamentary level. The Senators of the DRC have formally accepted that the notion of pygmies be maintained in the law. Today, June 10, 2022, will be inscribed in the annals and in the history of the Indigenous Pygmies.

The DGPA, a member of the RRI coalition, has worked tirelessly for more than a decade alongside indigenous communities, national parliamentarians, senators, government officials and legislators to help define and ensure the adoption of the law.

“This law is a weapon of combat and liberation for the Indigenous Pygmy Peoples of the DRCsaid Dorothée Lisenga, Indigenous community leader and coordinator of the Coalition of Women Leaders for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CFLEDD).

The adoption of the new law on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous Pygmy peoples is not the only change that the government of the DRC is making to the recognition of the rights, and in particular land rights, of its indigenous populations. more vulnerable. In March, the government also committed (https://bit.ly/3aNASdT) to mainstream gender into its draft national land policy – ​​with critical advocacy led by CFLEDD – ultimately placing women’s land rights at the center of land legislation that has not been updated since 1973.

Members of the RRI DGPA and CFLEDD coalition were on the front line (https://bit.ly/3tvCJe1) of the struggle for rights in the DRC for years. Now, thanks to their support, the voices of Indigenous peoples across the country are finally being heard.

The RRI Coalition’s support of the decade-long struggle to develop and pass this law has been strategic and influential. We are now focusing on the next steps: the signing of the law by the President of the Republic, the development of the implementing measures and the effective implementation of the law on the ground,” says Patrick Kipalu.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).

Media Contact:
Nicole Harris
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About the Rights and Resources Initiative:
The Rights and Resources Initiative is a global coalition of over 150 organizations dedicated to advancing the rights to forests, lands and resources of indigenous peoples, peoples of African descent, local communities and women. within these groups. Members capitalize on each other’s strengths, expertise and geographic reach to find solutions more efficiently and effectively. RRI leverages the power of its global coalition to amplify the voice of local people and proactively engage governments, multilateral institutions, and private sector actors to enact institutional and market reforms that support the realization of rights. By advancing a strategic understanding of the global threats and opportunities resulting from insecure land and resource rights, RRI develops and promotes rights-based approaches to business and development and catalyzes effective solutions to scale up land reform. rural land tenure and improve sustainable resource governance.

RRI is coordinated by the Rights and Resources Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit www.RightsandResources.org.

This historic law is the very first legislation in the country to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous Pygmy peoples. It will now be sent to President Félix Tshisekedi to be promulgated. This law will have a lasting effect on improving land tenure security and livelihoods of indigenous Pygmies, and their pwill allow to play a leading role plan in achieving DRC’s climate and conservation goals.

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