The legal system is based on Belgian civil law and tribal law. The constitution entered in force on 18 February 2006. The country accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court (ICC).???The court system is divided into three jurisdictions: judicial (civil and criminal), administrative, and military. The Supreme Court of Justice is divided into three separate high court instances: the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and Supreme Court for Administrative Matters. The judicial system faces difficulties due to the lack of financial resources, shortages of judges, corruption, and lack of independence. Malfunctioning of formal justice and security institutions leads to mob justice, largely in the east.???
Since the July 2006 elections, the country has a semi-presidential, decentralised system. The constitution establishes procedures to ensure the effective separation of powers between the legislature, executive, and judiciary. Executive powers are divided between the President and the Prime Minister. Both report to the National Assembly. One presidential term lasts five years and is renewable once.? Legislative power is exercised by the parliament, consisting of the National Assembly’s 500 deputies elected by direct suffrage for a five-year term, and the Senate’s 108 members elected indirectly by provincial assemblies.?? High levels of corruption and low political accountability undermine the government’s effectiveness and confidence in national institutions.?
There are three levels of government: national, provincial, and local. Decentralisation, envisaged in the 2006 constitution, became official on 16 July 2015, when 11 provinces were divided into 26. Each province has an elected provincial assembly, which has to elect a governor and a provincial administration. President Kabila has appointed special commissioners to administer the newly created provinces until governors are elected. Within each province, towns, communes, and chiefdoms exercise local rule.??
Provincial responsibilities include health, environment, agriculture, and education. The provinces share authority with the central government in matters of security, justice, taxation, mining and land rights. Provinces represent significant counter-power to central government. Chiefdoms, towns and communes manage local public infrastructure, markets, and the police, and they also issue civil documents.?
The 2006 elections were widely regarded by both international and national observers as technically sound, transparent and credible.?However, confidence in democracy was undermined in the 2011 presidential elections, when over 1 million votes went missing. There have been no provincial or local elections since 2006. In the absence of elections, mayors and others continue to be appointed by Kinshasa. They are typically political clients and are therefore more likely to be accountable to their patrons than to local citizens.??
The delay in holding local elections is caused by insufficient capacity and will. Presidential elections are supposed to be held in November 2016, however it is likely that they will be postponed up to four years, for the same reasons. It is therefore possible that Kabila will stay in office beyond the end of his mandate in November 2016.??
Military expenditure represents 1.7% of GDP. The national military, the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), numbers an estimated 150,000 troops; half are deployed in the east. They are made up of AFDL combatants, who brought Kabila’s father to power, and remnants of Mobutu’s army. FARDC’s policy is to incorporate former members of armed opposition groups, militias, and the Mayi-Mayi. However, the quality of integration is low and most groups remain under their former leadership and deployed in their home areas. As a result, FARDC is very fragile in the east and its soldiers engage in looting and violence against civilians. Another common pattern is that previously integrated fighters desert FARDC to launch a new insurgency.??
The national police have about 100,000 officers. The main police forces are the Police d’Intervention Rapide, which carries out most large security operations, special services, and the road traffic police. The road traffic police engage in extortion of the population.?
With a Corruption Perceptions Index score of 22 out of 100, DRC is ranked 147 out of 167 countries. The government has implemented a zero tolerance strategy on corruption but the results remain unsatisfactory. Favouritism and the poor functioning of the justice system, exacerbated by low basic public sector salaries and the absence of effective control and accountability mechanisms all contribute pervasive corruption. Sectors most affected are mining, forestry, tax and customs administration, state-run enterprises and the army. Judges, magistrates, and traffic police openly accept bribes.????
Freedom of expression
DRC is ranked 150 of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. DRC authorities are allegedly involved in threats against journalists and human rights activists. They tolerate arbitrary arrest and abduction, and allegedly commit violations against political opponents. Such repression results in self-censorship.??
With presidential elections due in November 2016, the repression of those speaking against the government has been rising. Journalists, activists and political leaders are being increasingly targeted by security forces, and subjected to arbitrary arrest and prolonged incommunicado detention.? Newspapers and radio stations are being closed, including two TV channels in Haut-Katanga closed on 2 February 2016 for alleged non-payment of taxes. Both belong to the former governor of Katanga and opposition politician Moïse Katumbi.? More than 70 newspapers, radio, and TV stations were closed in 2014, and a first journalist was killed after more than six years.???