U.S. Statement as delivered by Jason Mack
Human Rights Council 36th Session
Geneva, September 29, 2017
Thank you, Mr. President.
One year ago, the Human Rights Council called on the Democratic Republic of Congo government to work to prevent all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights in the DRC and to conduct thorough investigations so that those responsible for such acts are held accountable.
Unfortunately, that did not occur, and the resolution before us today does not reflect the realities on the ground, which is why the United States must call for a vote and vote no on this text before us today. We continue to receive reports of serious violations and abuses of human rights including those involving extrajudicial killings, abductions and disappearances, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, committed by both armed groups and security forces. We continue to see very little progress investigating reports of violations and abuses and hold those responsible accountable. Moreover, the congratulatory language in this resolution is an affront to the memories of U.S. citizen Michael Sharp and of Zaida Catalan, who were brutally murdered in the DRC and whose murders have not been credibly investigated to this day. We disagree with this resolution’s assertion that the DRC has made sufficient efforts to hold accountable those responsible for these or hundreds of other alleged killings of DRC citizens.
The DRC also continues to delay genuinely free and fair elections that are credible and inclusive. The Independent National Electoral Commission has already consulted with the Government and the CNSA, but there is still no calendar for elections despite the fact that the registration process is now almost fully completed. In addition, we remain deeply concerned about continued restrictions on political space and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Congolese citizens, including the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
We emphasize that while violations and abuses are committed on both sides, the government of the DRC has the primary responsibility to protect and promote human rights. We emphasize the human rights violations and abuses on both sides. In recognition of the continuing deteriorating situation in the DRC and the lack of progress on these issues, the United States hoped that today’s resolution would be stronger, stating clearly the need for accountability for all parties, and reflecting the unfortunate lack of progress in holding elections.
We are also disappointed that the negotiation of this resolution was not conducted more transparently. The DRC’s failure to consistently share drafts of the resolution to Council members in order to receive feedback, reluctance to receive edits, and failure to table the resolution in a timely and transparent way, impeded the Council’s ability to reach a stronger resolution.
We reiterate our call to end the violations and abuses of human rights in the DRC. The United States strongly supports the continued work of the Group of Experts operating in the DRC and we urge DRC Government to cooperate fully with this team and to provide it unhindered access to all areas of the country, and we look forward to this Council receiving the results of their work. We urge the DRC Government to commit to holding genuinely free and fair elections, and increase its own efforts to end abuses and impunity.
In closing, we again appeal to the DRC to postpone its candidacy to the Human Rights Council until it has addressed these serious issues with its human rights record.