HRC39 | The Democratic Republic of Congo must stop restricting civil society space


As the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is approaching the crucial time of its presidential elections, the government continues to restrict civil society actions. ISHR reiterated its call on the Human Rights Council to maintain a high level of scrutiny on the human rights situation in the DRC.

In a statement delivered during the Human Rights Council's 39th session on 25 September 2018, ISHR shed a light on the severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression, imposed by authorities in the DRC. Indeed, protest is growing in the country as presidential elections are approaching. Defenders who express their disagreement with the current regime and in particular with the way the elections are being prepared, face heightened risks of arrests or attacks.

Once again, ISHR expressed its deep concerns about a law supposedly for the protection of human rights defenders that is currently being discussed within the government. ISHR Human Rights Council Advocate Salma El Hosseiny reminded the Council that, ‘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 with the international obligations of the DRC. The law restricts the exercise or protection of defenders’ rights and also imposes unnecessary controls on NGOs receiving financial support and harsh penalties for non-compliance.’

In addition, ISHR also brought to the attention of the Council the possible amendments to the 2001 bill on associations, which could affect the working environment of defenders locally. Indeed, El Hosseiny noted that ‘if adopted in its current form, this bill will seriously restrict civic space' and urged the DRC to bring both draft bills in line with international standards.  

Finally, ISHR reiterated its call on the Council to maintain a high level of scrutiny on the human rights situation in the DRC especially ahead of this crucial political time for the country.

Watch ISHR's statement here: 


Contact: Adélaïde ETONG KAME, Africa Advocacy Consultant,

Photo: MONUSCO/ Eric Kavanagh


  • Africa
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Congo (Kinshasa)