Thirty-seven DR Congo Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) on Wednesday April 13, called for an end to repression and for the respect of human rights in the two provinces of Ituri and North Kivu which are currently under a state of siege.
“We are very disturbed by the degradation of the human rights situation and the continuing massacres in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri,” the human rights organisations said in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, who is currently on a visit accompanied by several ministers to the two provinces to evaluate the situation of the state of siege.
The state of siege which has been in place in the two provinces since May 6, 2021, is an exceptional measure put in place to help bring an end to violence by armed groups active in the provinces for at least 25 years.
The measure involves the replacement of civil administrators by military and police administrators in the two provinces of Ituri and North Kivu. It is however yet to produce the envisaged results.
“Far from securing the civilian population, the military authorities have restricted the exercise of public liberties by suppressing peaceful demonstrations and carrying out arbitrary arrests, intimidation, beatings and launching judicial pursuits against all voices that criticise this measure or call for an end to the state of siege,” the NGOs said in their letter to the Prime Minister.
“At least, an activist has been killed by the security forces during a demonstration,” the letter revealed, recalling that 12 other activists have recently been jailed for one year by a military tribunal in Goma, chief town of North Kivu province.
The letter revealed that a member of the opposition is detained in Bunia, Ituri province, for having “criticised the state of siege on social media” and that two members of parliament are “still in detention, awaiting trial, for having criticised or being opposed to the state of siege”.
Among the recommendations to the Prime Minister, the NGOs mentioned the release of the persons mentioned in the letter, sanctions against soldiers and police officers who are perpetrators of human rights abuses and the adoption of a law containing the modalities for the application of the state of siege.
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