HRC40 | The new authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo must show commitment to the protection of human rights

20.03.2019

During the enhanced dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on the Democratic Republic of Congo, ISHR expressed concerns over the alarming shrinking space for civil society and restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in the country.

Since 2016, year when presidential elections were initially planned to take place, a spate of violence led to gross human rights violations. Although the country has achieved a relatively peaceful political transition for the first time since its independence, unfavourable conditions and mistrust have led ‘the civil society and political parties to organise protests through the largest cities of the country, which were suppressed violently by the defense and security forces’, declared Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO. As a matter of fact, ‘many citizens of Congo paid a high price to achieve this political votation’, she regretted.

Nevertheless, the transitional context represents an opportunity for the DRC government to reconsider its approach in dealing with the civil society. ISHR therefore called on the new authorities to ensure the protection of civic space and the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. This implies breaking down any barrier to the exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, such as violent repression and voluntary internet connection shutdowns.

ISHR remains deeply concerned by several bills under discussion, which clearly fail to respect international standards and the UN Declaration on the protection of human rights defenders. ‘The common denominator of these bills is the large number of provisions implying heavy state interference aimed at restricting the work of human rights defenders in the country’, denounced Adelaïde Etong Kame. Therefore, we urge the State to bring them into line with regional and international norms.

ISHR finally called on the government to comply with its obligation to promote and protect human rights and to create a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders to freely and effectively carry out their work.

Read the full statement here.

Watch the statement's video here: 

Contact: Adelaïde Etong Kame, Africa advocacy consultant a.etong@ishr.ch

Photo: UN Video

Category:

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