Ms Elena Valenciano, Chair of the of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, expressed her grave concerns at the arrest of several activists from the youth movement, Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA), on 16 February 2016, just before the general strike took place. The strike was called by opposition political parties and civil society organisations, to protest against delays in the preparation for the 2016 presidential elections in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC).
Among the activists who were arrested both in Goma and Kinshasa, we find Rebecca Kavugho, Justin Kambale Mutsongo, Melka Kamundu, John Anipenda, Ghislain Muhiwa, Bienvenu Matumo, Marc Heritier and Serge Kambale (Serge Sivyavugha). Ms Valenciano had met Serge Kambale last December during his visit to Brussels and discussed the worrying human rights situation in DRC.
Ms Valenciano said, "I express my grave concern about these arbitrary detentions and the current judicial prosecution against the activists, and recall that the DRC authorities have an obligation to ensure that detainees are not subject to any kind of ill-treatment while under custody. I condemn any harassment and intimidation of civil society activists as they have merely exercised peacefully their civil and political rights and call for their immediate and unconditional release.’’
She added, "I hope that the UN Secretary General’s visit to the country will have an impact on how the DRC authorities are dealing with the serious political and human rights challenges that the country is facing. I believe also that the EU must use its leverage and apply all possible ways and means, particularly within the framework of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, to ensure that the commitments taken by the DRC with regard to democracy, the rule of law and human rights principles are upheld. I support the call for the establishment of a UN Special Envoy for human rights in the DRC in order to help address challenges in a more effective way the current multiple ordeals."
Elena VALENCIANO MARTÍNEZ-OROZCO (office)