The United States and United Kingdom have issued a joint statement on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The statement said both countries were appalled by use of deadly force by security forces on protesters on 21 January. Which incident claimed the lives of six people with others sustaining injuries.
“The use of disproportionate and lethal force against Congolese citizens and the cutting of internet and SMS services breached assurances from the DRC Presidency that security forces had been instructed to protect the fundamental rights of citizens while maintaining public order,” the statement read.
It also expressed concerns over what it said was arbitrary arrests of persons including religious leaders, journalists and protesters. A local NGO reported that 10 priests were being mistreated in state detention.
Joint statement by UK & US embassies in Kinshasa, the #Congo, following the heavy crackdown, once again, on peaceful protestors last Sunday. Interesting to see how the International community is adopting an increasingly harsh tone towards the #Kabila regime. #DRC #CongoCrisis pic.twitter.com/62jr0X5q8g— Jean-Mobert Senga (@jm_senga) January 23, 2018
The U.S. and U.K. stressed that by its clampdown on peaceful protests, Kinshasa was effectively impeding the democratic process and obstructing the St. Sylvestre Accord signed in December 2016.
They said government’s actions also contravened international human rights norms including that of the U.N. human rights council – which the DRC is currently a member of.
“We call on the government to investigate and hold accountable security force members who fired on civilians or ordered the use of lethal force.
“We also reiterate our call to the DRC government to release political prisoners, end politically motivated persecutions, stop the duplication of political parties, allow political parties to change the representatives of the National Independent Electoral Commission, and respect the fundamental freedoms of the Congolese people as it agreed to do when it signed the St. Sylvestre Accord on 31 December 2016,” the statement concluded.
The statement was issued by their respective embassies in the DRC signed by British Ambassador, John Murton and Jennifer Haskell, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires.