The European Union and United States should expand targeted sanctions against those most responsible for recent violent repression and other serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 72 Congolese and 15 international human rights organizations* said today:
Ten days before the December 19, 2016, deadline marking the end of President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally mandated two-term limit, he still has not made any clear commitment on when or even if he will step down. At the same time, government repression against pro-democracy activists, the political opposition, largely peaceful protesters, and the media has intensified at an alarming rate…..
Opposition leaders and pro-democracy activists have called for Congolese to take to the streets if President Kabila stays in office beyond his mandate. Past protests suggest that they will be met by security forces quick to use excessive and lethal force. …. This raises concerns that the country could descend into further repression or widespread violence and chaos, with potentially volatile repercussions across the region.
“President Kabila and Congolese officials need to be sent a strong message that violating the rights of the Congolese people is costly for those responsible,” said Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Acting now to help prevent the situation in Congo from spiraling out of control will be critical to stability, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights in Congo and throughout the region.”
*The organizations include grantees or partners of the National Endowment for Democracy.