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Democratic Republic of the Congo
22.12.16
Urgent Interventions

Unrest, arrests and killings in DR Congo: Stop EU support for Congolese police

Brussels, 22 December 2016 - Afterdays of political turmoil in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the European Union (EU) must take stronger and more concrete action by stopping its financial supportfor the police sector, the European network for Central Africa (EurAc) and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) declared today.
The violent and deadly current turmoil in the DRC is no surprise to observers. In the last months and weeks, EurAc and OMCT have issued repeated warnings about the risk of seeing the pre-electoral situation deteriorate into afurther escalation of violence and repression. Despite recent significant efforts of the EU to apply sanctions against seven top security officials, the current situation in Kinshasa andin other main cities of the country is extremely worrying: according tovarious reliable sources,security forces have shot dead at least 34 protesters since Monday 19 December. Since last week, the United Nations has documented “113arrests in the country, including opposition leaders and sympathizers, civil society activists and human rights defenders, media professionals and other individuals”. Youth and pro-democracy movement activists from Lucha were arrested in Goma on 21 Decemberand access to social media, such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook, is still largely down after being cut last Sunday.
The undersigned organisations acknowledge that a few EU Member States reacted publicly to the recent developments, denouncingthe violence and expressing their deep concern. For instance, France is considering nowthe possibility for the EU to apply additional sanctions against the DRC. Germany declared thatit has canceled further development aid talks “until further notice”.
Following these recent declarations, we call on the EU to increase the pressure on the Congolese regime in order for the violent repression to stop and for a political compromise to be found. We therefore urge EU leaders to:
- Extendtargeted sanctions against the main police and intelligence officials and against the Justice and Communication and Medias ministersAfter days of renewed violence and abuse, we urge the EU to extend the individual sanctions to other senior officials responsible for organising the repression, namely the head of National Congolese Police (Police Nationale Congolaise -PNC) Charles Bisengimana, the head of the intelligence services (Agence Nationale de Renseignements -ANR) Kalev Mutond, as well as the Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe-Mwamba and Communications and Medias Minister Lambert Mende. Thelatter is responsiblefor the blocking and jamming of the signals of national and international radio stations and the blocking of social media;
- Stop EU financial support for Congolese policeOur organisations deem it irresponsible for the EU co-operation to continue funding the Congolese police. Due to the clearand reliable evidence of politicalrepression and human rights violations involving Congolese security service agents (ANR, PNC, Presidential Guard), we urge the EU to immediately stop its financial support throughthe Support Programme for Reform of the Police in the DRC (Programmes d’Appui à la Réforme de la Police en RDC - PARP), funded as part of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).Without rapid, significant and satisfactory progress on the political stalemate and the human rights situation, we call on the EU to immediately trigger the mechanisms for enhanced political dialogue provided for in the Cotonou Agreement (enhancedArticle 8 and consultations under Article 96), with the possibilityof a suspension of all aid programmes, except for humanitarian and emergency actions in direct support of the population or support to political transition and a way out of the crisis; - Provide greater support and protection for civil society and human rights defendersCivil society organizations and youth movements such as Lutte pour le Changement (Lucha), Filimbi andmany other movements play a crucial and key role in DRC, working towards the defense and promotion of human rights and democracyand for the rule of law, representing the pillar of pluralistic society, often risking their lives. Supporting and protecting these critical voices should be a priority for the EU today. Therefore, we call on the EU, also through the EU Delegation, to publiclycondemn the violations occurring in DRC and work more closely with Congolese civil society publicly supporting its legitimate human rights work, in accordance with the EU Human Rights Defenders Guidelines. Moreover, we urge the EU to provide enhancedflexible and direct financial support as well as the possibility of issuing emergency visas tothose human rights defenders and organisations at risk in order to helpguarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity.
- Encourage the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) to comply with its obligationsThe EU must encourage MONUSCO to comply with its obligations enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution 2277, especially Article 29 (b), to ensure and contribute as a priority to the“stabilization […] through support to the creationof an environment conducive to peaceful, credible and timely elections reducing the risk of instability, including open political space, and promotion and protection of human rights” and Article 36 I (a) to “ensure, within its area of operations, effectiveprotection of civilians under threat of physical violence, including bydeterring, preventing and stopping armed groups from inflicting violence on the populations, paying particular attention to (…) human rights defenders, with a focus on violence emerging(…) in the context of elections”.

For media inquiry and/or more information please contact:
In Brussels - For EurAc, Julie Capoulade (English, French, Spanish), julie.capoulade@eurac-network.org;Tel: +32 2 725 47 70 / +32 499 81 01 77In Brussels - For the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Chiara Cosentino (English, Spanish, French), cc@omct.org ;Tel: +32 2 218 37 19 / +41 22 809 49 3
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