According to Amnesty International, “arms and military equipment from the United States, France, China, Russia and others are contributing to grave human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including killings, rape, looting and abductions.”
The report, If You Resist, We’ll Shoot You, details how Congolese security forces and armed groups alike are able to commit serious human rights violations because of the ease with which weapons and ammunition are available.
“If we want to stop the killings, the mass rapes and the abductions in the DRC and in other countries, we must begin by stopping the unfettered firepower that fuels these and other human rights abuses,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. “The DRC is only one example, among many around the world, where the persistent transfer of weapons to security forces and armed groups drives human rights abuses…”
According to Amnesty International’s research, unregulated and irresponsible arms transfers contribute to the deaths of at least 500,000 people on average every year. About 60 percent of the human rights violations documented in a study by the organization involved the use of small arms and light weapons. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – collectively account for 88 percent of the global arms trade.
Irresponsible arms transfers contribute to horrors all over the world, and the US is mentioned on a list of world powers that make up 88 percent of the global arms trade. But don’t let that fool you. The US is no small portion of that: some estimates say the US accounts for half of the global arms trade, and thus bears a disproportionate share of the responsibility for the deaths of some 500,000 people each year. In the case of the Congo, Washington gives about $230 million each year to the authorities and US arms go to security forces and armed groups which have committed “crimes under international law including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence on a large scale” in a “conflict that has resulted in the suffering of millions of men, women and children.”