Leading Congo bishop urges US Congress to remember human toll of conflict minerals
May 15, 2012
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which directed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue regulations requiring public companies to report to shareholders on the use of minerals that come from conflict-torn areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A desire to control the mineral-rich eastern area of the nation has fostered a conflict that has led to the deaths of over five million people since 1996, making Congo the site of the bloodiest fighting since World War II.
The SEC has not issued the regulations, and some companies have expressed concern about the costs of the required reports, leading a House subcommittee to hold a hearing on May 11 on “The Costs and Consequences of Dodd-Frank Section 1502: Impacts on America and the Congo.”
Testifying before the subcommittee, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Congo urged Congress to “resist watering down SEC regulations to half measures that may save money, but cost lives.”
“This violence has destroyed families, villages and communities,” said Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe. “The Church in the Congo trusts that the business community can and will join us to protect the life and human dignity of the Congolese people by conducting legal, transparent, and accountable international commerce. We are confident that they do not want to be part of the misery that has plagued Eastern Congo for years.”
In a related story, the Fides news agency reported that a Toronto-based mining company, with the cooperation of local leaders, drove 5,100 Congolese from their land in order to mine for gold.
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