Human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo – political and security threats

The fragile political and security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo threatens the country’s human rights and fundamental freedoms, a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council warns.

The United Nations says some improvements have been made in the DRC’s human rights situation since its last report a year ago, but violations and abuses remain rife.

The report attributes most crimes to armed groups, but notes 44% have been committed by the DRC’s armed forces and the Congolese National Police. That, it says, has led to a resurgence in restrictions on civic and political space.

Christian Jorge Salazar Volkmann, director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, says political opponents, journalists and members of civil society have been arbitrarily arrested by the intelligence services.

“I remain concerned about the proliferation of hate speech and messages inciting violence, discrimination and hostilities, particularly in relation with the political competition, the armed conflict in the east and intercommunal conflicts in the rest of the country,” he said.

Volkmann says one year before the next presidential elections, it is important to bring alleged perpetrators of the messages to justice, and prevent the security situation from further deteriorating.

He says the security situation in the DRC’s eastern provinces remains extremely worrying.

“Measures taken in the implementation of the state of siege, which came into effect on the sixth of May 2021 in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, do not appear to have deterred armed groups from attacking civilians, particularly in internally displaced person sites. Nor have they reduced the number of documented violations and abuses,” Volkmann said.

A Congolese army tank heads towards the front line near Kibumba in the area surrounding the North Kivu city of Goma during clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels, May 25, 2022.

The United Nations says armed groups have killed thousands of people and forcibly displaced nearly 5.5 million from their homes. The report finds the resurgence of M23 rebels in North Kivu since November 2021 has led to a further deterioration of security.

Volkmann calls for an end to impunity, which he says fuels conflicts in the DRC. He says perpetrators of crimes must be held accountable and brought to justice.

DRC Minister of Human Rights Albert Fabrice Puela says efforts are being made to protect and promote human rights throughout the country. He notes the government was making progress in establishing the transitional justice initiative, adding that the process of addressing past and current human rights violations will help prevent new conflicts and restore peace.


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