Democratic Republic of the Congo: An Update
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) for a briefing on the complex political and human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In December 2016, representatives of President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition and members of the political opposition signed an agreement designed to ensure a peaceful, electoral transfer of power and avert a violent crisis after the expiration of Kabila’s second term in office. The agreement, mediated by the Congolese national conference of Catholic bishops (CENCO), set December 2017 as the deadline for elections, prohibited Kabila from seeking a third term or amending the constitution, mandated a unity government, and identified confidence-building measures designed to open up political space. Implementation, however, has been incomplete at best. CENCO formally withdrew from the mediation in March, and new political violence threatens to spiral out of control.
As a credible timetable for organizing elections has yet to be issued, the government has suppressed civil society and opposition members, arresting dozens of activists, banning opposition demonstrations, and breaking up protests using tear gas and live bullets. Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and independent human rights organizations have reported on a new wave of grave human rights abuses linked to armed conflict, including extrajudicial executions, targeted killings, and civilian massacres. Over the past year, long-running insecurity in the east has worsened, while new conflict hotspots have emerged, most notably in the central Kasai region. The number of people internally displaced in the DRC has reached 3.8 million, more than double the number in mid-2016. At least 1.4 million of these newly displaced people are in Kasai, some 850,000 of whom are children.
Panelists will provide an update on the various dimensions of the crisis in the DRC, and offer options for Congress to pursue in response.
This briefing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Mr. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or Kimberly.Stanton@mail.house.gov or Jamie Staley (for Mr. Hultgren) at 202-226-1516 or Jamie.Staley@mail.house.gov.
Steve Hege, Senior Program Officer, Middle East & Africa, U.S. Institute of Peace
Mike Jobbins, Director of Global Affairs and Partnerships, Search for Common Ground
Adotei Akwei, Africa Advocacy Director, Amnesty International USA
Aditi Gorur, Director, Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program, Stimson Center
Alexis Arieff, Analyst in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service