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The Democratic Republic of Congo must hold perpetrators of violations against defenders accountable

The DRC has noticeably improved the protection of human rights in the Kasaï region but progress remains slow and action is still needed towards transitional justice and the protection of defenders in this region.

During the interactive dialogue, ISHR and SOS Information Juridique Multisectorielle (SOS IJM) delivered a joint statement highlighting the urgent need to establish transitional justice mechanisms and to adopt a national law protecting defenders, in line with international standards.

“We therefore urge the Congolese Parliament to adopt a national law for the protection of human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists, and whistleblowers that meets international standards” said Justin Bahirwe from SOS IJM.

To echo this call, the United Kingdom, France and Ireland all shared their concerns on the continued violations and repression against journalists and defenders as well as during peaceful protests and called on the government to guarantee that defenders are able to work without fear of reprisals.

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, commended the DRC for its efforts since the last report but noted that there are still violations committed by the security forces, that the state of siege in the North-Kivu has a negative impact on the administration of justice and that the process towards the establishment of the transitional justice mechanisms needs to be accelerated to ensure victims have access to redress.

The Minister for Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Albert Fabrice Puela, affirmed his willingness to continue to work towards the improvement of the human rights situation in the country. He also emphasised the importance to fight impunity against perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders such as the case of the murder of Floribert Chebeya et Fidèle Bazana wich cases are currently in front of the courts in the DRC.

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Defenders protection mechanisms must include defenders

On 30 April, ISHR delivered a statement following the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on defenders in Africa. The statement focused on the need to include civil society in the newly established protection mechanisms and the need for the Special Rapporteur to publish their first report on reprisals against those who engage with African human rights mechanisms.

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