Human Rights Watchdog Decries Escalation Of Crackdown On Media, Civil Activism In DRC
Sumaira FH 3 months ago Thu 28th January 2021 | 02:27 PM
The government of President Felix Tshisekedi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has marred its initial human rights agenda by having scaled up the repression of journalists and political activists over the past year, a prominent international human rights organization said on Thursday
MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 28th January, 2021) The government of President Felix Tshisekedi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has marred its initial human rights agenda by having scaled up the repression of journalists and political activists over the past year, a prominent international human rights organization said on Thursday.
�"President Felix Tshisekedi's administration in the Democratic Republic of Congo has increasingly cracked down on the media and activist groups during its two years in office. Despite some initial steps to advance a human rights agenda, the government has threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, and prosecuted several dozen journalists, activists, and others deemed critical of the government," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a press release.
HRW researchers interviewed 83 victims of abuse, journalists, lawyers and activists over the past year and found at least 109 cases of arbitrary arrests and harassment, according to the press release. At least 16 of these cases involved agents of the National Intelligence Agency.
Congolese Human Rights Minister Andre Lite was quoted as saying that "whereas freedom should be the principle and detention the exception, we tend to make an arrest before investigating in Congo and, unfortunately, detention has become the rule."
"The crackdown over the past year is in stark contrast with Tshisekedi's first year in office, which was marked by a significant decline in political repression compared with [former president] Joseph Kabila's administration," the watchdog said.
One of the reasons behind this aggravation is that most Kabila-era security and intelligence officials were not held accountable for past repressions and continue to hold positions of authority, the press release read.
The watchdog called on the DRC authorities and Tshisekedi personally to guarantee equal rights to peaceful expression and assembly, which is also their obligation under international human rights law. It also urged the regional and international partners to pressure Kinshasa into stopping the persecution of media and activists.