Democratic Republic of Congo

House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd June 2010.

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Photo of Lord Chidgey Lord Chidgey Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the protection of human rights activists and those working for the strengthening of civil society in that country in light of the alleged murders of activists and journalists.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

We are deeply concerned at the increasing intimidation and violence faced by human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We follow cases of concern closely and press the Government of DRC bilaterally and with our EU partners to meet their responsibility for protecting human rights defenders, journalists and civil society. Most recently our ambassador to the DRC raised our concerns at the death of human rights defender Floribert Chebeya with government officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We are also providing practical support to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society are able to carry out their work. Our embassy in Kinshasa is implementing EU guidelines on human rights defenders. With our EU partners in the DRC we met eight non-government organisations (NGOs) representing human rights defenders who gave their feedback on the EU human rights strategy. We have appointed a liaison officer and made their contact details available to local NGOs and civil society. The UN Organization Mission in DRC (MONUC) Protection Unit also provides protection services to those in danger including relocation and advice on personal security.

We also support a media fund jointly administered with France and Sweden to support professionalisation, regulation, and the economic viability of the media in the DRC. Funding goes to local media organisations and NGOs including Journalists in Danger, which campaigns for freedom of the press.

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