DRC: UN human rights chief’s visit must spur authorities to halt rights crackdown
As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, begins his four-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Michelle Kagari said:
“We are witnessing a crackdown of dissenting voices in the DRC ahead of elections supposed to be held in November. Arrests of activists and harassment of civil society are becoming commonplace.”
“The High Commissioner’s visit should mark a turning point away from this repression. He should call on the authorities to honour their international obligations to uphold human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”
Amnesty International requests that the High Commissioner makes the following calls on the DRC authorities:
- Release all political prisoners, including youth activists and Amnesty International prisoners of conscience Fred Bauma, Yves Makwambala and Christopher Ngoyi, who have been held in detention for over a year now.
- Stop misusing the justice system to legitimise crackdowns on dissenting voices. In particular, the UN High Commissioner should speak out against the jailing on trumped-up charges of people critical to perceived attempts by the ruling party to amend the constitution to prolong President Joseph Kabila’s rule.
- Meaningfully reform the National Intelligence Service (ANR), which has been widely used to clamp down on the opposition and civil society, to ensure that it acts within the law.
- Protect vulnerable civilians across the country, in particular in the region of Beni where over 500 people have been killed by armed groups under the watch of the DRC’s armed forces (FARDC) and the UN stabilization force (Monusco) since 2014, as well as prompt, impartial and effective investigations and accountability in fair trials for the deaths.
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