Chapter III : Human Geography
Part 3 : Administrative and Judicial Organization.

from : J. Roland and E. Duchesne, Cours Complet de Geographie : Le Congo Belge, Namur 1914, pp.29-30


The central governmant of the Belgian Congo has it's seat in Breuusels, the local government in Boma. In Brussels, it is exercised by the king, assisted by the minister for the colonies, and by the colonial council. In Boma, it is represented by the governor general, assisted by several vice-governors general.
The king appoints - and recalls - the minister of colonial affairs, the governor general and the vice-governors general. - The colonial council is composed of 14 members and presided by the minister of colonial affairs. Of the 14 members, 8 are nominated by the king; six are chosen by the Belgian legislative chambers : three by the Senate, and three by the Chamber of Representatives.
Legislative power rests upon the king, who exercises it by the way of decrees, except in those matters which are regulated by law and which, consequently depend on the Belgian legislative chambers. - The king equally exercises the executive power, by the means of reglementation and by the means of arrests. - The justice, organised by decrees, is placed in the hands of the courts and tribunals. The professional magistrates are appointed by the king : they can neither be recalled nor suspended without the proposition of the public prosecutor at Boma, for such cases foreseen by decrees and which require the confirmation of a tribunal of appeal; they can not be transferred to another location without their consent except in case of an urgent matter and as a provisorical measure.

Administrative Divisions.

The colony is administratively divided in 22 districts, and these in territories, which have respectively at their head district commissioners and territory administrators.
The 22 districts, with their actual seats of administration, are the following : Bas-Congo (= Lower Congo), seat Boma; Moyen Congo (= Middle Congo), seat Leopoldville; Kwango, seat Bandundu; Kasai, seat Luebo; Sankuru, seat Lusambo; Lac Leopold II., seat Inongo; Equateur, seat Coquilhatville; Lulonga, seat Basankusu; Bangala, seat Lisala; Ubangi, seat Libenge; Bas-Uele (= Lower Uele), seat Buta; Haut-Uele (Upper Uele), seat Bambili; Ituri, seat not designated; Stanleyville, seat Stanleyville; Aruwimi, seat Basoko; Lowa, seat not designared; Kivu, seat not designated; Maniema, seat not designated; Lomami, seat Kabinda; Tanganika-Moero, seat Kongolo; Lulua, seat Kafakumbu; Haut-Luapula (= Upper Luapula), seat Kambove.
The last four (Lomami, Tanganika-Moero, Lulua, Haut-Luapula) constitue the vice-government of Katanga, seat of administration Elisabethville. The administration is exercised by the vice-governor of Katanga, assisted by an inspector of state, a commissioner general, a secretary general, directors, a conservator of land registration and a commander of the troops in Katanga.
The territory formed by the 8 districts of Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, Ituri, Stanleyville, Aruwimi, Lowa, Kivu and Manyema constitute the vice-government of the Province Orientale (= Eastern Province), seat Stanleyville.
The number of territories varies per district. Furthermore the administration recognizes the indigenous chieftainships and they contribute to the exercise of it's authority.

Judiciary Divisions.

Regarding the organisation of justice, the colony has two tribunals of appeal, seven tribunals of first instance and 15 territorial tribunals.
The two tribunals of appeal have their seats in Boma and Elisabethville. The seven tribunals of first instance are established at Boma, Leopoldville, Coquilhatville and Stanleyville, on the river, at Niangara, on the upper Uele, at Luambo on the Sankuru, and at Elisabethville in Katanga.
The responsibility of the tribunal of appeal at Boma covers the entire territory except the 4 districts of the vice-government of Katanga, which form the responsibility of the tribunal of appeal at Elisabethville.
The responsibility of every single one of the seven tribunals of first instance are determined as follows : Tribunal of first instance at Boma : the district of Bas-Congo; - at Leopoldville : the districts Moyen-Congo, Lac Leopold II. and Kwango; - of Coquilhatville : the districts Equateur, Lulonga, Bangala and Ubanghi; - of Stanleyville : the districts of Stanleyville, Aruwimi, Ituri, Lowa, Manyema, Kivu; - of Niangara : the districts Bas-Uele and Haut-Uele; - of Elisabethville : the districts of Lomami, Tanganika-Moero, Lulua, Haut-Luapula.
The personnel of the territorial tribunals and of the tribunals of first instance are composed of a judge, a representative of the royal prosecutor, and a writer. - The territorial tribunals do not have the competence to decide in penal matters; they judge infractions committed by indigenous and such of smaller importance committed by whites. Le tribunals of first instance deal with penal, civil and commercial matters.
The tribunals of appeal are composed of one president, two judges, a general prosecutor and a writer. They judge and appeal sentences pronounced by the territorial tribunals and by the tribunals of the first instance. The prosecutor general of the tribunal of appeal at Boma is the highest ranking judiciary authority in the colony.
At Brussels is instituted, with highest jurisdiction, the superior council, composed of consultants of law chosen by the king, and consisting of a president, two councilors and auditors, a secretary and a writer. It deals with either cassation or appeal.
Finally, there are the councils of war of first instance, numerous enough, and the council of war of appeal, with seat in Boma. They deal with infractions committes by military personnel.

The Public Force.

The armed force is recruited among the indigenous partially by voluntary enlistment, partially by annual draft operated by the way of lottery, in a sort of common accord between district commissioners and indigenous chiefs. The contingent, fixed for every year, amounts to 3,750 men for 1913. The duration of service is seven years, the effective force about 18,000 men, not including the European cadres. The public force is placed under the supreme command of the governor general, and, in every district, under the direction of the district commissioner.
There further exists a Police Corps charged with maintaining order and public tranquility, with a brigade in every district and also sometimes in urban areas, such as Elisabethville.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on February 13th 2002

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