details

Groupe Lotus , Orientale

Groupe Lotus is registered as an NGO with the national government.

Location

Kisangani, Orientale province
Lotus is based in Kisangani but has bureaus in the Tshopo, Bas Uélé, and Haut Uélé districts of Orientale province.

Sectors of Intervention

Human rights (monitoring, protection, education); good governance; legal assistance; sexual and gender-based violence

History

In 1991, a group of students at the University of Kisangani started Groupe Lotus to workon human rights and good governance. Initially, they focused on monitoring human rights andgovernance, and producing reports. Over time, Lotus expanded to train young men and women (18 to25 years old) to become human rights activists, through a program called Young Defenders of HumanRights. Lotus is well known and respected in DRC and internationally for its human rights monitoringand its provision of legal assistance to victims. Lotus’s president is also the vice president of the InternationalFederation for Human Rights (FIDH), which is based in Paris. Lotus has its headquarters inKisangani and seven bureaus in other parts of Orientale province (Opala, Bondo, Yangambi, Isangi,Bafwasende, Ubundu, and Basoko). Lotus has worked with many international donors, including theNational Endowment for Democracy, CTB (Belgian development agency), and COSI.

Mission

Change the norms and practices of Congolese society with respect to human rights

Objectives

  • Educate the population about their rights and obligations
  • Research solutions to problems that affect society
  • Defend human rights in Kisangani and the entire DRC
  • Promote democracy in DRC
  • Promote national and international solidarity

Populations Served

Groupe Lotus serves the general population in Orientale province, but has programs specifically for human rights victims, including survivors of sexual violence.

Programs

  • Human rights monitoring: Lotus monitors human rights through its Kisangani headquarters and seven bureaus. It publishes regular reports about its findings, as well as private reports for the UN and other international organizations.
  • Human rights training: Lotus provides trainings about human rights to youths, civil society organizations, local officials, and the general public. Many current Lotus staff became interested in human rights after attending Lotus’s training sessions and joining its Defenders of Human Rights group.
  • Regulating conflict: Lotus recently completed a three-year project to minimize local conflicts in Orientale province by organizing meetings that brought together different tribes, groups in dispute, etc., with the goal of reducing the likelihood of violence and armed conflict.
  • Assisting victims of human rights violations: Lotus provides free legal and psychosocial support to victims of human rights violations.
  • Promoting democratic governance: In 2010, Lotus undertook a project to analyze and publicize information about the government of Orientale province’s budget. In 2011, Lotus is focused on the upcoming national elections and trying to energize a disillusioned electorate to participate and vote.
  • Promoting the administration of justice and the struggle against impunity: Lotus monitors the functioning of judicial institutions in Orientale province and regularly visits local prisons (and brings food for prisoners) to monitor conditions and specific cases.
  • Protecting human rights defenders: Lotus uses its international contacts to call attention to journalists, human rights activists, and others who are victims of human rights violations.
  • Lobbying for legislative, political, and security issues: Lotus regularly lobbies government and international agencies to ensure respect for human rights. As an example, in 2010, Lotus participated in efforts to persuade the Ministry of Justice to create a program for the defense of human rights defenders.

Governance

The supreme governing body is the general assembly, which consists of all staff andvolunteers (32 people), plus representatives from Lotus’ seven bureaus (they are currently creatingthree more bureaus). The general assembly selects the executive committee, which consists of sixmembers (president, vice-president, two secretaries, treasurer, and manager). Lotus has 23 staff (14permanent staff and 9 part-time staff ). All employed staff have contracts; seven are lawyers. Lotusalso has nine regular volunteers.

Lotus has two accounts at Rawbank in Kisangani: one is for Lotus’s grants from the National Endowmentfor Democracy and one is general for the organization. For financial, administrative, andpersonnel management, Lotus has:

  • A procedures manual with policies for financial management; hiring and personnel issues; and purchasing policies and procedures: YES
  • A computerized accounting system: YES
  • A clearly defined accounting process: YES
  • Clear procedures for management of payroll, petty cash, procurement, and disbursements: YES
  • Staff with the technical expertise to undertake projects: YES

Strengths

  • A large, professional, educated staff with extensive experience working in human rights
  • A long history and is well established in Orientale province
  • A strong management capacity developed as a result of working with international donors, including CTB (Belgian development agency) and National Endowment for Democracy

Needs

  • Sustainable funding to support its activities and retain qualified staff in the face of competition from the United Nations and other international agencies
  • More material for its office, such as laptop computers and virus software; would like to have a website
  • Greater in-house expertise on fund-raising—i.e., a full-time development staff person
  • Greater capacity to help human rights victims
  • Strengthening of networks of human rights groups
  • Greater capacity for monitoring and evaluation of its work

Funders and Budget

For 2010, Lotus’s budget was $60,000. Funders include the National Endowment for Democracy (continuously since 1997) and COSI.

Accomplishments

  • In the first three months of 2011, provided free legal assistance to 62 survivors of sexual violence
  • In 2010, provided human rights training to 1,400 people
  • In 2010, produced and paid for radio programs on human rights that were broadcast 140 times

Organizational Vision

Groupe Lotus would like to achieve improved governance, accountability, and respect for human rights in DR Congo.

Project Proposals

  • Institutional capacity building: Lotus would like to strengthen its organizational capacities by acquiring equipment (computers, printers, a vehicle), establishing a website, and training staff (various software programs, website development and maintenance, Internet security, and fund-raising). Cost: $66,000
  • Promoting democratic governance and protection of human rights: Lotus proposes to hold a series of three-day workshops in Kisangani and rural areas of Orientale province to train 1,200 people from local civil society organizations, customary chiefs, and others about the provincial budget, the roles and responsibilities of elected officials, and human rights (with a focus on the rights of women). Lotus will also produce and pay for the broadcast of radio programs on the aforementioned topics. Cost: $100,000
  • Access to justice and struggle against violence toward women and children: Lotus proposes to conduct workshops to train communities throughout Orientale province about the rights of women and children, and the mechanisms for reporting violations of those rights. Lotus would establish networks in rural areas to ensure greater reporting of violations and assistance to survivors, and publicize information about the rights of women and children using leaflets and radio broadcasts. Cost: $100,000

Contact

Dismas Kitenge, president, +243.818.990.950, +243.998.539.252, dismaskitenge@yahoo.fr

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