Casement Report

Roger Casement
E. D. Morel
Emile Vandervelde
Franz von Papen, the Vice-Chancellor of Germany under Adolf Hitler in 1933–34. Papen was key in organising the arms shipments.
German U-boat SM U-19, second from the right. c. 1914.

1904 document written by Roger Casement —a diplomat and Irish independence fighter—detailing abuses in the Congo Free State which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium.

- Casement Report

18 related topics


Leopold II of Belgium

The second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 and, personally, the owner and dictatorial ruler of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908.

Royal portrait, c. 1900
Leopold as a younger man in the uniform of the Grenadiers (Portrait by Nicaise de Keyser)
Leopold II at his accession to the throne
The Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark memorial arcade and museums in Brussels, commissioned by Leopold II
Cartoon depicting Leopold II laying the first stone of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels
Map of the Congo Free State, c. 1890
Cartoon depicting Leopold II and other imperial powers at the Berlin conference of 1884
A father stares at the hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter, severed as a punishment for having harvested too little rubber.
A 1906 Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne depicting Leopold II as a rubber snake entangling a Congolese rubber collector.
Leopold II's funeral procession passes the unfinished Royal Palace of Brussels, 22 December 1909
Statue in Kinshasa, which is no longer on display.
Leopold and Marie Henriette

These and other facts were established at the time by eyewitness testimony, on-site inspection by an international commission of inquiry, and the 1904 Casement Report.

Congo Free State

Large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908.

Leopold II, King of the Belgians and de facto owner of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908
Henry Morton Stanley, whose exploration of the Congo region at Leopold's invitation led to the establishment of the Congo Free State under personal sovereignty
Cartoon depicting Leopold II and other imperial powers at Berlin conference 1884
Map of the Congo Free State in 1892
Steamboat in the Congo Free State, 1899
'La revue' of the Force Publique, Boma, capital city of the Congo Free State, 1899
The concessions and the Domaine de la Couronne. The infamous A.B.I.R. company is shown in dark red.
Cecil Rhodes attempted to expand the territory of the British South Africa Company northward into the Congo basin, presenting a problem for Leopold II.
Francis Dhanis, ca. 1900
Clearing tropical forests ate away at profit margins. However, ample plots of cleared land were already available. Above, a Congolese farming village (Baringa, Equateur) is emptied and leveled to make way for a rubber plantation.
Congolese labourers tapping rubber near Lusambo in Kasai.
A typical Force Publique regiment, circa 1900
A Congolese man, Nsala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by members of the Force Publique in 1904.
Mutilated Congolese children, image from King Leopold's Soliloquy, Mark Twain's political satire, where the aging king complains that the incorruptible camera was the only witness he had encountered in his long experience that he could not bribe. The book was illustrated with photographs by John Hobbis Harris.
Cartoon by British caricaturist 'Francis Carruthers Gould' depicting King Leopold II, and the Congo Free State.
A 1906 Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne, depicting Leopold II as a snake entangling a Congolese man
Roger Casement
E.D. Morel
Proclamation from Inspector-general Ghislain to the population of the Congo, announcing the annexation of the territory by Belgium in 1908
Equestrian statue of Leopold II at the Regent place in Brussels, Belgium
The Monument to General Storms in Brussels daubed in red paint, symbol of the blood of the Congolese people.
Congolese people working at the port of Leopoldville
Construction of a railroad by Congolese workers
Melting latex of rubber in the forest of Lusambo

The Casement Report of the British Consul Roger Casement led to the arrest and punishment of officials who had been responsible for killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903.

Roger Casement

Diplomat and Irish nationalist executed for treason during World War I.

Casement in 1914
circa 1910
Roger Casement (right) and his friend Herbert Ward, whom he met in the Congo Free State
2014 Faroe Islands stamp depicting Casement and Daniel Jacob Danielsen, his Faroese boat captain and assistant
Casement attempted to smuggle weapons from Germany for the Easter Rising.
Poster advertising public meeting "Against the Lawless Policy of Carsonism"
Franz von Papen. Papen was key in organising the arms shipments.
Plaque commemorating Casement's stay in Bavaria during the summer of 1915
German U-Boot SM U-19, second from the right. c. 1914
Roger Casement's grave in Glasnevin Cemetery. The capstone reads "Roger Casement, who died for the sake of Ireland, 3rd August 1916".
1966 Ireland stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of Casement's death

Described as the "father of twentieth-century human rights investigations", he was honoured in 1905 for the Casement Report on the Congo and knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in the rubber industry in Peru.

Belgian Congo

Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960.

The Belgian Congo (dark green) shown alongside Ruanda-Urundi (light green), 1935
Leopold II, King of the Belgians and de facto owner of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908
The Belgian Congo (dark green) shown alongside Ruanda-Urundi (light green), 1935
Children mutilated during King Leopold II's rule
Former residence of the Governor-General of the Belgian Congo (1908–1923) located in Boma
On the left hand side, the former Ministry of the Colonies, adjacent to the Constitutional Court, Brussels
Map of the Belgian Congo
The Force Publique in German East Africa during World War I
A steam boat arriving at Boma on the Congo River in 1912
Belgo-Congolese troops of the Force Publique after the Battle of Tabora, 19 September 1916
Ruandan migrant workers at the Kisanga mine in Katanga, ca. 1920
Railways (grey/black) and navigable waterways (purple) in the Belgian Congo
Propaganda leaflet produced by the Ministry of the Colonies in the early 1920s
The majority of the uranium used in the Manhattan Project came from the Shinkolobwe mine.
Students in the Teaching laboratory, Medical School, Yakusu, c. undefined 1930–1950
Scheutist missionary on tour in the neighbourhood of Léopoldville around 1920
Education by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (c. undefined 1930)
Nurses of the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga and their Congolese assistants, Élisabethville, 1918
A female missionary is pulled in a rickshaw by Congolese men, c. undefined 1920–1930
King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth inspecting the military camp of Léopoldville during their visit to the Belgian Congo, 1928
Joseph Kasa-Vubu, leader of ABAKO and the first democratically elected President of the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)
Patrice Lumumba, first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)
Opening meeting of the Belgo-Congolese Round Table Conference in Brussels on 20 January 1960
Lumumba and Eyskens sign the document granting independence to the Congo
Belgian soldier lying in front of dead hostages, November 1964, in Stanleyville during Operation Dragon Rouge. Belgian paratroopers freed over 1,800 European and American hostages held by Congolese rebels.
Equestrian statue of Leopold II in Kinshasa

Following the 1904 Casement Report on misdeeds and conditions, the British, European and American press exposed the conditions in the Congo Free State to the public in the early 1900s.

E. D. Morel

French-born British journalist, author, pacifist and politician.

Red Rubber: "The Story of the Rubber Slave Trade Flourishing on the Congo in the Year of Grace, 1906"
Roger Casement's 1904 report confirmed Morel's accusations
The Belgian socialist leader Emile Vandervelde aided Morel by sending him copies of parliamentary debates
E.D. Morel before WWI
Plaque dedicated to Morel at Golders Green Crematorium

Casement was outraged by the evidence of atrocities that he discovered and wrote a blistering report in 1904, discussing its contents with the London press even before its official release.

Atrocities in the Congo Free State

State under the absolute rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.

Map of the Congo Free State in 1892
Congolese labourers tapping rubber near Lusambo in Kasai
Force Publique soldiers photographed in 1900
A missionary points to the severed hand of a Congolese villager. Severed hands were "the most potent symbol of colonial brutality" in the Congo.
A line of Congolese prisoners in Basoko joined by large neck chains
1906 cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne published in the British satirical magazine Punch showing a Congolese worker, entangled by a rubber snake with the head of Leopold II.
Alice Seeley Harris' photo of a father looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter. Her photos helped to expose the human rights abuses in the Congo
Picture of "Congolese men holding cut off hands" captured by Alice Seeley Harris in Baringa, May 1904
Monument of colonial propaganda to Leopold II in Arlon, southern Belgium, erected in 1951: "I undertook the work of the Congo in the interest of civilisation and for the good of Belgium."

He delivered his report in December, and a revised version was forwarded to the Free State authorities in February 1904.

Congo Reform Association

Political and humanitarian activist group that sought to promote reform of the Congo Free State, a private territory in Central Africa under the absolute sovereignty of King Leopold II. Active from 1904–1913, the association formed in opposition to the institutionalised practices of Congo Free State's 'rubber policy', which encouraged the need to minimise expenditure and maximise profit with no political constraints – fostering a system of coercion and terror unparalleled in contemporary colonial Africa.

E.D Morel, co-founder of the Congo Reform Association (c.1905)
Roger Casement, British consul and author of the Casement Report
A compilation of photos taken of victims of the Congo Free State's Rubber Regime – contributors include Alice Harris.

Published in 1904, The Casement Report confirmed the scale of atrocities taking place in the CFS, yet FO officials' interference and lobbying by agents of the CFS led to softening the graphic nature of the report, with the removal of witnesses and perpetrators names undermining its legitimacy.


Town in Équateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Basankusu Cathedral before its demolition in 2012.
The new cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Basankusu - inaugurated Oct 23 2018
The Catholic religious order, the Theresienne Sisters of Basankusu at a mass for the taking and retaking of vows at the temporary structure built while the new cathedral was being built, 2013.
Arranging planks of wood to enable passage of this decaying Bailey bridge.
The deterioration of essential bridges around Basankusu makes communication difficult.
Tasty seasonal African Plums - known locally as Safu - in Basankusu.
A girl delivers 'kwanga' – Cassava bread – wrapped in banana leaves. Basankusu, DRC.
Women returning from their vegetable gardens with cassava and firewood.
Basenji in Basankusu.
Bonobo (Pan paniscus) is the closest living relative to humans.
Basankusu - a family in front of a fired-brick house with palm-leaf roof and concrete floor.
A Basankusu woman celebrates being connected to the outside world by mobile phone with a phone call to relatives in Kinshasa.
Allen's swamp monkey - Basankusu.
Diocese of Basankusu - 'Mpoma'.
Man with a bicycle in Basankusu.
Carrying fruit in Basankusu.
Basankusu Hospital.
The airport building - Basankusu.
Basankusu boats
Basankusu: the hotel manager showing a standard room.

Historically, Basankusu holds some stories of exploitation during the times of the Abir Congo Company but was also the gateway to much of Equateur Province for those individuals involved in the reforms which came from the Casement Report and the Berlin conference of 1884-5.

Amber Reeves

New Zealand-born British feminist writer and scholar.

Amber Reeves, with Anna-Jane, her daughter with H G Wells. Photograph taken in 1910.

In this book, she researched and put together material on the devastation of the rubber trade on the native populations of Putumayo Department, Peru, and Belgian Congo (see the Casement Report for an account of the tremendous human rights abuses in the latter).

Scramble for Africa

The invasion, annexation, division, and colonization of most of Africa by seven Western European powers during a short period known as New Imperialism .

Areas of Africa controlled by European colonial powers in 1913 (Belgian (yellow), British (salmon), French (blue), German (turquoise), Italian (green), Portuguese (purple), and Spanish (pink) Empires)
David Livingstone, early explorer of the interior of Africa and fighter against the slave trade
Map of African civilizations and kingdoms prior to European colonialism (spanning roughly 500 BCE to 1500 CE)
Comparison of Africa in the years 1880 and 1913
Contemporary French propaganda poster hailing Major Marchand's trek across Africa toward Fashoda in 1898
The Askari colonial troops in German East Africa, c. 1906
Italian aircraft in action against Ottoman forces during the Italian invasion of Libya in the Italo-Turkish War
Henry Morton Stanley
Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza in his version of "native" dress, photographed by Félix Nadar
From 1885 to 1908, many atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State; in the image Native Congo Free State labourers who failed to meet rubber collection quotas punished by having their hands cut off.
Port Said entrance to Suez Canal, showing De Lesseps' statue
Otto von Bismarck at the Berlin Conference, 1884
Boer child in a British concentration camp during the Second Boer War (1899–1902)
Muhammad Ahmad, leader of the Mahdists. This fundamentalist group of Muslim dervishes overran much of Sudan and fought British forces.
Map depicting the staged pacification of Morocco through to 1934
The Moroccan Sultan Abdelhafid, who led the resistance to French expansionism during the Agadir Crisis
Pygmies and a European. Some pygmies would be exposed in human zoos, such as Ota Benga displayed by eugenicist Madison Grant in the Bronx Zoo.
Poster for the 1906 Colonial Exhibition in Marseilles (France)
Poster for the 1897 Brussels International Exposition.
German Cameroon, painting by R. Hellgrewe, 1908
Equestrian statue of Leopold II of Belgium, the Sovereign of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908, Regent Place in Brussels, Belgium
The Foureau-Lamy military expedition sent out from Algiers in 1898 to conquer the Chad Basin and unify all French territories in West Africa.
The Senegalese Tirailleurs, led by Colonel Alfred-Amédée Dodds, conquered Dahomey (present-day Benin) in 1892
Italian settlers in Massawa
Marracuene in Portuguese Mozambique was the site of a decisive battle between Portuguese and Gaza king Gungunhana in 1895
Opening of the railway in Rhodesia, 1899
Following the Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War in 1896, the British proclaimed a protectorate over the Ashanti Kingdom.
Oil and gas concessions in the Sudan – 2004

Casement's report set it at three million.