Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations his Department has made to the government of Democratic Republic of Congo on the arrest and incommunicado detention of 12 activists after protests in January 2015 against revision of the electoral law.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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 an Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement issued on 19 January.

On 25 January a revised electoral law was passed, and on 26 January an FCO 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 Head 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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