We are writing today to urge your delegation to address the worrying human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, and to support a resolution that would increase the United Nations’ capacity to monitor and report on human rights violations in the country and help prevent an escalation of violence, abuse, and repression in the coming months.
Since January 2015, the Congolese government has imposed a brutal crackdown against those who have spoken out against or opposed attempts to extend President Joseph Kabila’s presidency beyond the constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ends on December 19, 2016. Government officials and security forces have arbitrarily arrested scores of opposition leaders and activists, fired on peaceful protesters, banned opposition demonstrations, shut down media outlets, accused peaceful pro-democracy youth activists of plotting terrorist acts, and prevented opposition leaders from moving freely around the country. The UN Joint Human Rights Office in Congo has documented 760 human rights violations related to restrictions of democratic space, including 500 violations in 2016.
In one of the latest attempts to curtail human rights reporting during a period of increased government repression, the Congolese government in August 2016 blocked our senior researcher, who has been based in Congo with Human Rights Watch for over eight years, from continuing to work in the country.