Date: June 21, 2019
Subject: U.S. Discusses Human Rights and Accountability in DRC
Scott Busby, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, visited Kinshasa and Goma June 17-21 to promote democracy and human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During President Tshisekedi’s visit to Washington DC in April, it was agreed to work together to strengthen human rights under the framework of the U.S.-DRC Privileged Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. DAS Busby’s visit is part of this effort. In Kinshasa, DAS Busby met with President Felix Tshisekedi, Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, National Assembly President Jeanine Mabunda, National Police Commissioner Dieudonne Amuli, senior DRC military officials, Human Rights Minister Marie-Ange Mushobekwa, Acting Justice Minister Azarias Ruberwa, DRC’s Council of Catholic Bishops (CENCO), representatives of Congolese civil society, and the UN Joint Office of Human Rights.
Throughout his visit, DAS Busby stressed that DRC’s first peaceful transfer of power provides an important opportunity for increasing respect for human rights and curbing corruption and impunity and our strong commitment to helping President Tshisekedi address these issues. “The issue of accountability is important around the world but it’s especially important here in Congo because of DRC’s history of impunity,” said DAS Busby. The U.S. stands ready to assist the DRC government in holding accountable those individuals—some of them still in positions of influence and power—who are responsible for serious human rights abuses or significant acts of corruption.”
DAS Busby praised the numerous actions President Tshisekedi has taken since his election to increase respect for human rights, open political space, and strengthen the rule of law. DAS Busby also emphasized that “civil society remains key to changing this country” and encouraged the government to work closely with it. He also raised the importance of pursuing justice in the murder case of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan.
In Goma in eastern DRC, DAS Busby met with local government leaders, local police officials, civil society organizations, and representatives of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to DRC (MONUSCO). DAS Busby noted the gross abuses of human rights that continue to be committed by armed groups there and the importance of the government’s developing a comprehensive approach to addressing this problem. He also expressed our ongoing concerns about the use of excessive force by Goma police against peaceful protesters.
The U.S. and DRC agreed to hold a formal human rights dialogue later this year. “The U.S. government,” said Busby, “looks forward to working closely with the DRC to further advancing democracy and the protection of human rights.”