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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Democratic Republic of Congo

8.3.2016 - (2016/2609(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Jordi Sebastià, Maria Heubuch, Heidi Hautala, Judith Sargentini, Bart Staes, Michèle Rivasi, Barbara Lochbihler, Ernest Urtasun, Bodil Valero, Bronis Ropė, Igor Šoltes on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0342/2016

Eljárás : 2016/2609(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the Democratic Republic of Congo


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),

–  having regard to the joint press statement by the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie of 16 February,

–  having regard to the statements by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, notably of 21 January 2015 and 12 October 2015,

–  having regard to the statements by the EU delegation to the Democratic Republic of Congo on the situation of human rights in the country, notably those of 11 February and 21 October 2015,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 19 January 2015 on the Democratic Republic of Congo,

–  having regard to the statement of 22 January 2015 of the International Envoys to the Great Lakes region on the situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the joint press release of 12 February 2015 by the African Union Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the African Union Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa on the human rights situation following the events surrounding the amendment of the Electoral Law in the DRC,

–  having regard to the press statement of the chair of the subcommittee on human rights of the European Parliament from 16 February 2016 on the arrest of youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo,

–  having regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights and the activities of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 27 July 2015,

–  having regard to the revised Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Community signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (the Cotonou Agreement),

–  having regard to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was ratified by the DRC in 1982,

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular its articles 22, 23, 24 and 25,

–  having regard to the "Free Filimbi Activists" appeal launched by over 200 Human Rights Groups on 15 June 2015,

–  having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,


A.  Whereas according to the Congolese constitution, elections shall take place in 2016,

B.  whereas the constitution states that a president cannot serve for more than two terms; whereas accordingly, current President Kabila is not allowed to represent himself,

C.  whereas President Kabila is currently trying to postpone these elections, whereas he has yet to declare publicly that he will step down at the end of his term,

D.  whereas President Kabila has argued that the path to elections is through a national inclusive dialogue; whereas a substantial segment of civil society and political opposition have rejected the dialogue as a stalling tactic;

E.  whereas the Congolese government has said that presidential elections due to be held in November 2016 will be delayed by up to four years, saying the country is not prepared to head to the polls,

F.  whereas on the contrary, the International Organisation of the Francophonie stated that it would be possible to update the electoral lists in three months,

G.  whereas last year, an attempt to modify the electoral law linking the organisation of elections to a national census, which could have postponed the elections, failed after the eruption of protests in the capital Kinshasa and other cities,

H.  whereas the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie have underlined the crucial importance of these elections, whose peaceful, transparent, smooth and timely conduct would greatly contribute to consolidating the progress made in the DRC for more than a decade,

I.  whereas the European Union has declared its readiness to support the election process,

J.  whereas according to the Congolese authorities, 27 people died in the protests of January 2015, including two police officers, and 350 people were arrested, after clashes between protesters, police and Republican Guard soldiers; whereas the arrests included notable human rights activists like Christopher Ngoyi who is still in prison;

K.  whereas delays in the organisation of the elections led to a national strike ("ville morte") on February 16,

L.  whereas in the Eastern city of Goma, police entered the office of an organisation where youth activists had been working through the night preparing banners for the national strike and arrested Rebecca Kavugho, Serge Sivya, Justin Kambale, John Anipenda, Ghislain Muhiwa, and Melka Kamundu, all members of the Struggle for Change (La Lutte pour le Changement, LUCHA) citizens' movement; whereas they were tried, convicted of incitement to popular revolt and sentenced to six months of prison;

M.  whereas at the same time in Kinshasa, two other LUCHA activists, Bienvenu Matumo and Marc Héritier Kapitene, were arrested after a preparatory meeting for the strike; whereas Victor Tesongo, a member of an opposition political party who had met with the LUCHA activists at the end of their meeting, was arrested on his way home; whereas the three could not be reached for three days;

N.  whereas on 14 February, security officials arrested an opposition leader and member of parliament, Martin Fayulu, detained him at the military intelligence headquarters in Kinshasa and released him seven hours later without charge; whereas Martin Fayulu was allegedly beaten during his detention; whereas he has been involved in mobilising participation in the national strike;

O.  whereas at least 30 other political opposition supporters were arrested and detained in connection with the "ville morte", whereas other activists who supported the national strike have received text message threats from unknown phone numbers;

P.  whereas in the early hours of 16 February, the signal of Radio France International, one of the most listened-to radio stations in Congo, was cut in an apparent attempt to disrupt the strike; whereas in January 2015 government authorities had similarly blocked radio signals, text messages, and Internet services during mass demonstrations across the country;

Q.  whereas in Lubumbashi, shops which had closed down on February 16, got fined and forced to shut down for an entire month by local authorities,

R.  whereas on 26 January, two TV channels in Haut-Katanga province, Nyota TV and Radio Télévision Mapendo, were shut down for alleged non-payment of taxes; whereas both TV channels are owned by former Katanga governor Moïse Katumbi, who used to support President Joseph Kabila but resigned from the ruling party in September 2015 and now opposes a third term of the President;

S.  whereas the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in DRC stated that they had documented more than 400 cases of rights violations, including 52 arrests, since the beginning of 2016; whereas the head of the UNJHRO in DRC, Jose Maria Aranaz, said rights violations "had exceeded the number during the January protests of last year";

T.  whereas the UN stated that a large number of human rights abuses were still perpetrated by State agents and that there has been limited progress in bringing senior perpetrators to justice,

U.  whereas in March 2015, Congo’s National Intelligence Agency (Agence Nationale de Renseignements, ANR) arrested all participants of a workshop in Kinshasa uniting youth activists from the DRC and other African countries which led to the creation of Filimbi, a Congolese pro-democracy youth platform; whereas two activitists, Yves Makwamba and Fred Bauma, are still detained today,

V.  whereas a parliamentary “information mission,” established on 27 March to examine how Congo’s security services managed the Filimbi dossier, found no evidence indicating that the Filimbi leaders and workshop participants were involved in or planning any terrorist or other violent crimes, the charges they were being accused of;

W.  whereas since then, numerous senior political party leaders and human rights defenders have been arrested, illustrating that the clamping down on Filimbi was not an isolated case,

X.  whereas many arrested activists were held for weeks or months in secret detention centres, without charge and without access to their families or lawyers,

Y.  whereas in Goma, in Eastern Congo, in March and April, the authorities arrested and later released at least 15 activists from the LUCHA youth movement who were demonstrating peacefully to demand the release of their colleagues detained in Kinshasa;

Z.  whereas in Goma, on November 28, police fired teargas and live bullets in the air when about 100 people were attending a peaceful protest against the government’s failure to halt massacres in Beni territory; whereas a 14-year-old girl was shot and wounded; whereas authorities arrested 12 people, including two youth activists, three teenagers, and other demonstrators and bystanders; whereas the teenagers were released after four days, but the nine others, including two LUCHA activists, remain in detention on trumped-up charges;

AA.  whereas many arrested activists were held for weeks or months in secret detention centres, without charge and without access to their families or lawyers,

BB.  whereas detained human rights defender Christopher Ngoy was transferred to a hospital in Kinshasa on February 8 after suffering severe loss of blood and an onset of anemia, among other medical complications; whereas he was returned to Kinshasa’s central prison on March 2, before he fully recovered and before the cause of the loss of blood was discovered or treated;

CC.  whereas on 15 September, participants in an opposition meeting were attacked an beaten; whereas the international human rights organisation Human Rights Watch linked these attacks to the Congolese Security forces, which allegedly trained and paid young people in order to attack the meeting,

DD.  whereas the UN has warned that election-related violence could erupt again and reverse any progress that has been achieved so far; whereas the UN has called for the conduct of peaceful, timely and credible elections in November 2016;

EE.  whereas in April 2015, a mass grave was discovered near Kinshasa,

FF.  whereas Congolese authorities have minimised the existence of this grave, excluding any link to possible killings by Congolese security forces,

GG.  whereas on 1 April 2015 the members of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an independent institution for the promotion and protection of human rights in the DRC, were nominated,

HH.  whereas according to the UN, there has been a significant deterioration in the Eastern part of the country in recent weeks, the theater of year-long clashes between different armed groups,

II.  whereas in Lubero, civilians have been caught up in fighting between armed groups, being displaced, forcibly abducted, or targeted for massacres or harassment,

JJ.  whereas this could spark clashes in neighbouring territories,

KK.  whereas three employees of the international charity Save the Children were kidnapped on 2 March adding to 175 cases of kidnapping for ransom in 2015 in the Eastern DRC,

LL.  whereas concerning the ongoing problem of mass sexual violence in the Eastern provinces, the UN has highlighted significant steps by the Congolese authorities, including 20 trials in the past three months which found 19 army officers guilty of rape,

MM.  whereas the access to and the exploitation of natural resources continues to play an important role in fueling the conflicts in the Eastern Congo;


1.  Is highly worried by the yet again dangerous political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is characterised by ever growing tensions between President Kabila, Congolese authorities and the opposition about the organisation of presidential and legislative elections in the country,

2.  considers President Kabila and the Congolese government entirely responsible for this situation, due to their attempts to delay the foreseen elections,

3.  urges the Government of the DRC to immediately address open questions related to the sequencing of the electoral calendar, its budget, and updating the voter registry in order to allow elections to take place before the end of the year,

4.  welcomes that the EU has declared its readiness to support the election process,

5.  calls on the Congolese authorities to ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance at the earliest opportunity,

6.  regrets the worsening of the situation in the DRC during the last year when it comes to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and right to association,

7.  recalls the commitment made by the DRC under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights principles which include freedom of expression and freedom of the media, good governance and transparency in political offices; urges the government of the DRC to uphold these provisions in accordance with Articles 11b, 96 and 97 of the Cotonou Agreement and, failing that, asks the European Commission to launch the relevant procedure in accordance with article 8, 9 and 96 of the Cotonou Agreement;

8.  considers the arrests in February to be part of a growing crackdown on opponents of the government's attempts to delay elections and extend the president's term in office,

9.  calls on the EU to consider imposing targeted sanctions on those responsible for the crackdown, including travel bans and asset freezes, to help prevent further violence,

10.  considers opening of article 96 of the Cotonou agreement consultations by the EU unavoidable in case President Kabila represents himself for an unconstitutional third term or stays in power without organising elections,

11.  calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees incarcerated for political reasons and for all charges against them to be dropped, including Yves Makwambala and Fred Bauma and other Filimbi and LUCHA activists and supporters, and the human rights defender Christopher Ngoyi,

12.  strongly regrets the convictions of Rebecca Kavugho, Serge Sivya, Justin Kambale, John Anipenda, Ghislain Muhiwa, and Melka Kamundu who only exercised peacefully their guaranteed right of expression,

13.  calls on the Congolese authorities to allow detained human rights defender Christopher Ngoy to get appropriate medical tests, including toxicology examinations, to determine the cause of his sudden loss of blood as well as the appropriate medical treatment, outside of Congo if needed. Calls on the EU to support such a medical evacuation for humanitarian reasons,

14.  urges the Congolese authorities to restore an environment conducive to the free and peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and association and the freedom of the press;

15.  considers the restoration of such an environment to be of utmost importance in order for the elections to be free and fair;

16.  calls for the immediate reopening of the two TV channels Nyota TV and Radio Télévision Mapendo,

17.  urges the Congolese authorities to stop minimising the significance of the mass grave next to Kinshasa and to conduct immediately a transparent and credible investigation;

18.  calls on the Congolese authorities to guarantee the independence and accountability of the Congolese security services, including the intelligence agency and the national police;

19.  calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate, prosecute, and appropriately sanction security force and intelligence officers and others responsible for the violent and illegal crackdown against activists, opposition leaders, and others who have opposed attempts by President Kabila to extend his stay in power,

20.  welcomes the creation of the National Human Rights Commission as outlined in the constitution,

21.  strongly condemns the renewed targeting and killings of civilians in the Eastern Congo,

22.  condemns the ongoing acts of sexual violence in the Eastern Congo; welcomes that the Congolese authorities have organised 20 trials during the last months on sexual violence in Eastern Congo and condemned 19 army officers; strongly encourages the Congolese authorities to continue its fight against impunity by investigating sexual violence cases and prosecuting the perpetrators;

23.  calls for the immediate release of the 3 employees of the international aid organisation Save the Children and of other abducted persons,

24.  welcomes the UN announcement to accompany the reduction of the United Nations Organization Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) force by a “force transformation” to ensure that it will exercise greater operational capability to protect civilians through rapid deployment mechanisms and aerial reconnaissance in Eastern Congo,

25.  welcomes the Congolese authorities effort to implement the legislation which forbids trading and processing of minerals in areas where there is illegal exploitation minerals, such as areas controlled by armed groups; calls on the Congolese authorities to reinforce the implementation of its legislation to put an end to the illegal exploitation of its mineral resources and urges the DRC to keep making an effort to comply with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives;

26.  Instructs its President to forward this Resolution to the Council, the European Commission, the VP/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EEAS, the African Union, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the government and the Parliament of the DRC.