Kinshasa Police Commissioner Célestin Kanyama, responsible for repression, sanctioned; U.S. and E.U. should follow with additional financial pressure if elections not scheduled, repression not halted
Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed General Célestin Kanyama, the Police Commissioner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa, on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. General Kanyama has been linked to at least three police operations that used excessive force, including “Operation Likofi” in which police summarily killed at least 51 youth and forcibly disappeared 33 others during an anti-crime campaign from November 2013 to January 2014, as well as deadly attacks on peaceful protestors in October 2015.
Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.
Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The chief of police is often a key tool in the machinery of a government determined to silence its people. Kanyama is accused of orchestrating a sinister set of crackdowns against Congolese civilians over the past two years, ratcheting up fear ahead of Kabila's possible third term. Activists and insiders are speaking up anyway, demanding a peaceful transition of power. Today's sanctions action is exactly the kind of enforcement step needed to complement the work of those communities on the frontlines, and send a message to Kabila's regime that abusive behavior will have consequences.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Today's sanctions announcement is the first spark to light a fire under the Kabila government to hold elections in a timely manner and halt repression. If Kabila fails to organize timely elections, more and more members of his inner circle should be designated for asset freezes and visa bans, and the European Union should follow suit.”
John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “In order for this welcome step of sanctioning Kanyama to be meaningful and have the desired impact, we must see vigorous and immediate implementation through identification and blocking of his assets. Kanyama and those around him must feel it. Sanctions, however, are only one tool that the United States and others in the international community should bring to bear to stop the regime's quest to stay in power. The use of anti-money laundering provisions, anti-corruption investigations, and steps to condition donor assistance must also be deployed in the service of democracy and peace in Congo.”
DRC President Joseph Kabila has been criticized for undermining the country’s constitution, including the attempted removal of presidential term limits, delays in scheduled elections, and violent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations.
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