Photo: UNWebTV screenshot. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, delivers his Oral Update on the situation of human rights in DRC

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo must guarantee the public freedoms of human rights defenders

While the human rights situation in the DRC has further deteriorated and the armed violence has intensified, the Council called for an accelerated adoption of the Law on the Protection and Responsibility of Human Rights Defenders.

ISHR and SOS Information Juridique Multisectorielle (SOS IJM) delivered a joint statement highlighting the importance of implementing a transitional justice mechanism to ensure the rule of law. In addition, we urged the government to complete the second reading of the Law on the Protection and Responsibility of Human Rights Defenders and align it with international standards and principles for the protection of defenders, especially regarding undue restrictions on their recognition as defenders.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, echoed the importance of a speedy adoption of the pending bill on the protection of human rights defenders amidst harassment and detentions of defenders and journalists by national intelligence agencies. He stated that there appear to be systematic efforts to prevent journalists and civil society actors from investigating allegations involving security forces, particularly in conflict areas.

The European Union reiterated similar concerns on the situation of defenders and journalists, especially within conflict-affected areas, and that state agents committed 87% of the violations against the democratic space. However, Angola welcomed the DRC’s recognition of the vital role played by defenders.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC and the Head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, described how DRC’s fragile security and political context have resulted in a shrinking civic space and increasing reprisals against defenders and journalists. Also, Junior Safari Runiga of the Network for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Witnesses, Victims and Media Professionals (REPRODEV) expressed his concerns about restrictions on the public freedoms of defenders, journalists and political opponents and the cycle of violence and plundering of natural resources by armed groups in provinces, such as Ituri, Maniema, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika.

Watch the joint statement below:

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