The Democratic Republic of the Congo – Human Rights Council – Civil and Political Rights – October 2018

The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a stakeholder report addressing human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for that country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to be held in May 2019.

This report addresses the DRC’s failure to comply with international human rights obligations and the recent increase in state-sponsored violence. The DRC accepted and partially implemented recommendations from the 2014 UPR to ratify international conventions and protocols to improve human rights conditions, but state-sponsored violence appears to have increased since that time. The Advocates has received direct reports from survivors fleeing human rights abuses of a worsening situation for those accused of supporting opposition parties; collectively, their experiences demonstrate that the legal system in the DRC fails to protect individuals from politically motivated violence and repression.

The government of the DRC has increased violence and repression in response to civil society protests since 2016, worsening the human rights situation. Human rights violations include disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture and other cruel and degrading treatment and punishment. The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC reports the imposition of severe restrictions of freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, and association and the harassment of political and civil society opposition leaders.

The Advocates propose the following recommendations for the government of the DRC:

  • Take immediate action to address human rights violations, including releasing detained political leaders, civil society activists, students, and journalists;
  • Establish an independent mechanism for investigating complaints of torture or ill-treatment at the hands of members of police and security forces and ensure that law enforcement officials continue to receive investigative training in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol;
  • Take the necessary steps to ensure that legal systems and policies are in full compliance with the DRC's international obligations with respect to freedom of assembly, association, and expression and ensure that journalists and human rights defenders are free to carry out their work independently and without fear of persecution or intimidation;
  • Combat impunity by thoroughly and impartially investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by State actors, and ensuring appropriate compensation for victims of such crimes;
  • Commit to a free and open political environment so that all political parties can legally campaign and participate in elections.