Enough Project welcomes this step, but the EU must follow up with targeted financial pressure and strong enforcement
Today, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council announced support for individual sanctions to address the escalating political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In its statement today, the Council said, "The EU will use all the means at its disposal, including individual restrictive measures against those responsible for serious human rights violations...and those who would try to obstruct a consensual and peaceful solution to the crisis." The statement is binding on all 28 member states and thus calls on authorities throughout Europe to engage in enforcement.
Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The EU has a powerful role to play to mitigate this crisis. Member states have been sitting back, far too quiet about the repression and its implications for Congo's future. The announcement today signals an important shift in Europe toward a more unified position against political repression and forever-presidents in Congo.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "We welcome the EU's first step today, but it must be followed up with strong financial pressure if it is to be effective- anti-money laundering measures, asset freezes, and travel bans against kleptocratic leaders. Congolese officials have properties in Europe and travel there frequently, so those measures would have a strong impact.”
John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Now that the EU has moved, the U.S. government should ratchet up its pressure on Congo in order to help facilitate a timely democratic transition in Congo. The U.S. should strongly enforce sanctions and anti-money laundering steps, complemented by support to civil society and protection for civilians facing an increasingly hard-handed state apparatus.”
The EU action follows a recent spike in violent repression by the Congolese government, including brutal crackdowns on September 19 and 20 against peaceful pro-election demonstrations that led to the deaths of at least 44 people and the arrest of dozens of protestors. The Congolese government has announced that presidential elections, originally scheduled for November this year, will be delayed, potentially until December 2018.
Since June this year, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has placed three high-level Congolese officials on its Specially Designated Nationals List: General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, head of the First National Defense Zone; Major General John Numbi Banza Tambo, former Inspector General of Congo’s National Police; and General Célestin Kanyama, the Police Commissioner of Kinshasa.
Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.
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The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.