HRC38 | The Democratic Republic of Congo must protect its civic space


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civil society space is shrinking, forcing human rights defenders to work in a very challenging and unsafe environment.

On 3 July, in its statement during the interactive dialogue on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ISHR expressed its concerns about the human rights situation in the country. Human rights defenders are targeted for challenging or criticising the government and exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. They are still the victims of threats and attacks because of their work.

ISHR shed light on the recent death of human rights defender Luc Nkulula who tragically died in a house fire. ISHR called on the DRC to carry out a credible and impartial investigation to establish the truth and bring justice to Nkulula and his family.

ISHR also drew attention to a draft bill currently under discussion supposedly for the protection of human rights defenders in the DRC. If adopted in its current form, this bill will seriously restrict civic space.

“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, it is important to highlight that this draft law is incompatible with the declaration and the international obligations of the DRC," noted Salma El Hosseiny, Human Rights Council Advocate at ISHR. "It restricts the exercise or protection of defenders’ rights and also imposes unnecessary controls on NGOs receiving financial support, and harsh penalties for non-compliance,” she added.

Finally, ISHR highlighted that, as a new member of the Human Rights Council, the DRC must fulfill its international human rights obligations by creating a safe and enabling environment for the promotion and protection of human rights. The government must further invite the Council to maintain high scrutiny on the human rights situation in the country.

Watch the statement here: 


Contact: Adélaïde ETONG KAME, 

Photo: FlickR_JelenaPrtoric


  • Africa
  • Human rights defenders
  • Reprisals and intimidation
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Congo (Kinshasa)