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Exercise of the Right to Freedom of Expression in the Democratic Republic of Congo
February 19, 2016

Press Statement

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
February 18, 2016
The United States is troubled by the harassment and detention of peaceful activists and opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including those detained in connection with this week’s general strike.

These detentions stifle the free expression of diverse political viewpoints, contributing to a closing of political space while undermining the credibility of the Government of the DRC during the electoral period.

We have raised our concerns with DRC authorities, and we call on the government to respect the freedoms enshrined in its own Constitution, which was promulgated 10 years ago today. We also call on the DRC to honor its international human rights obligations and immediately release all those being detained or, short of that, accord them the protections and fair trial guarantees to which they are entitled.

Criminalizing dissent and demonstration violates the DRC’s Constitution and threatens the legacy President Kabila has endeavored to build.

We further underscore the need for all political stakeholders to exercise their rights peacefully and encourage leaders to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric that incites violence.

(end statement)