Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue on the Democratic Republic of Congo

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Democratic Republic of Congo

Statement by the United States of America As delivered by Laura Conn

33rd Session of the Human Rights Council Geneva, September 27, 2016

Thank you Mr. President.

The United States thanks the High Commissioner and the independent experts.

The past two years have seen increased repression and the closing of political space by the Democratic Republic of Congo government, directed primarily at political opposition and civil society members related to the elections cycle, and including alarming spikes in reported human rights violations. In addition, the ongoing presence of armed groups in the East, especially in Beni Territory, has led to the deaths of civilians and police. While we are encouraged by the increased calm over the past days, we are alarmed by reports of disproportionate and lethal use of force by DRC government security services in recent days in Kinshasa, as well as violent criminal acts by individuals there.

There are concerning reports of torture, disappearances, and unlawful lethal violence by police and security forces, including the state intelligence agency. Many of those arrested are denied fair trial guarantees, and judicial independence is routinely undermined. While the Government recently announced the release of some political prisoners, existing charges have not been dropped. We condemn all violence and call upon all Congolese stakeholders to exercise restraint and avoid provocation, while reiterating that the DRC Government has the primary responsibility for protecting human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

We urge all stakeholders to pursue a consensus plan that includes a clear electoral time, with presidential elections prioritized and held as soon as is technically possible and a clear public commitment by the President to a transfer of power as required by the Congolese constitution. This is the most effective way to alleviate tensions, ensure stability, and respond to the democratic aspirations of the Congolese people.

Deputy High Commissioner, how can the international community best help focus attention on the need for progress on a democratic transition and respect for civil and political rights?

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