Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission: Democracy and Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the status of human rights and democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the end date of President Joseph Kabila’s second elected term in office approaches.
In 2002 the United States, working with African and European partners, helped facilitate a Congo peace accord that included a democratic transition and free elections under a new constitution limiting the president to two terms. In 2006 Joseph Kabila (who had assumed the presidency in 2001 upon the death of his father, President Laurent Kabila) was elected president in what was widely viewed as a free and fair election, but his 2011 re-election was not seen in the same light by respected international observers. Mr. Kabila’s second term is scheduled to end on December 19th, 2016, but it appears clear that he will not step down despite an outcry from civil society and the political opposition. An African Union initiative produced an October “political agreement” that led to the appointment of a new prime minister and nominally sets elections for 2018, with Kabila continuing to rule in the interim. However, the main opposition parties boycotted the negotiations and have offered alternative proposals.
In the context of heightened political tensions, since 2015, state security forces have increasingly sought to constrain anti-government mobilization and dissent, including by violently suppressing protests, arresting youth activists, closing down critical media outlets, and expelling widely respected international researchers who have probed sensitive issues. The political impasse raises the possibility of increased political contestation and intensified human rights abuses after December 19th.
Witnesses will describe the current situation in the Congo and discuss policy options for the U.S. government and the Congress in light of U.S. interest in the democratic stability of the country.
This hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via YouTube on the Commission website, https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/.
- Tom Perriello, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, U.S. Department of State
- Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State
- Ida Sawyer, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch
- Fred Bauma, LUCHA
- Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy, Enough Project
- Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, Professorial Lecturer, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
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