Democratic Republic of Congo

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 23rd February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Chidgey Lord Chidgey Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in relation to the arrest and reported incommunicado detention of Christopher Ngoyi and other activists in the wake of protests in January against the amendment of electoral law in that country.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

During the recent period of unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) officials at our Embassy in Kinshasa were in regular contact with the DRC authorities, and urged all parties to exercise calm and restraint. Officials also highlighted the importance of allowing those who wished to protest peacefully against the proposed electoral reform bill to be allowed to do so. This was echoed in a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) press statement issued on 19 January. On 25 January a revised electoral law was passed, and on 26 January a FCO press statement welcomed the revised electoral law, which sought to address some of the protestors' concerns. We are pleased that calls for an end to violence were heeded but are concerned that - according to UN reports – as many as 300 people remain in detention following the demonstrations, including some who have not had access to a lawyer. Of those currently being held, the UN estimates that at least 11 are believed to be in ‘incommunicado’ detention, including Christopher Ngoyi. Officials continue to raise the ongoing detention of protestors at the highest level. On 11 February, EU Heads of Mission in Kinshasa issued a joint statement expressing concern at arrests and arbitrary detention of political activists by the security services. Those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their right to free speech must be released without delay.

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