North-Kivu : Urgent Call for Revision of the Law on the Protection and Responsibilities of Human Rights Defenders

Goma, May 28, 2024 – The ongoing quest for justice and protection for human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is encountering significant legislative obstacles

An awareness workshop held in Goma this Tuesday highlighted the shortcomings of Law No. 23-25 of July 15, 2023, concerning the protection and responsibility of human rights defenders in the country.

Jovial Bakulu, representing the Congolese Alert for Environment and Human Rights (ACEDH), emphasized the urgency of revising certain key articles of this law. “Various advocacy steps, a lengthy process, and numerous efforts and sacrifices by civil society actors, parliament, and the government led to the promulgation of this law since June 15, 2023. However, certain articles therein deserve modification, notably articles 7, 8, 9, 11, and 27,” he stated.

These calls for revision do not entail a complete rejection of the law but rather an acknowledgment of its deficiencies. Bakulu underscored that certain aspects of the current legislation could be exploited to criminalize the legitimate activities of human rights defenders. Loopholes in the law pave the way for excessive punitive measures and the stigmatization of those who carry out their essential work under often dangerous conditions.

It is imperative for the government to heed this call to action. Human rights defenders are custodians of justice and human dignity. Their protection is essential to ensure a just and equitable future for all Congolese citizens.

ACEDH, with the support of partners such as the International Center For Not For-Profit Law (ICNL), is working on drafting a revision text that addresses the raised concerns. This collaboration reflects a continued commitment to protecting fundamental rights in the DRC.

The revision of the law on the protection of human rights defenders is more than just a matter of legislation; it is a matter of justice and respect for fundamental human rights. The government must act swiftly and decisively to ensure that human rights defenders can continue their work without fear of unjust repercussions.

By the Editorial team

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