MEPs express their deep concern over the death threats made against the Congolese human rights defender Dr. Denis Mukwege and calls for all measures to be taken to ensure his security.
In a debate with internationally renowned Congolese gynecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege on Monday, MEPs in the Subcommittee on Human Rights condemned the death threats made against the 2014 Sakharov Prize and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate following his recent condemnation of murders committed by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) provinces of South Kivu and Ituri. They called on both Congolese authorities and the international community to ensure his security and that of other human rights defenders working in the country.
The human rights situation in the DRC
Members, Dr. Mukwege and other invited experts also discussed the general human rights situation in the DRC. They underlined the need to implement and, if necessary, update the recommendations made in the UN report on human rights abuses committed in the DRC between 1993 and 2003 (known as ‘the Mapping Report’). They also debated ways to initiate a process of reconciliation between the populations involved in past conflicts and how to step up the fight against impunity to ensure justice for victims of heinous war crimes, including by possibly setting up an ad-hoc international criminal court for the DRC.
Members and the guests further elaborated on how to tackle the root causes to the conflicts in the country, such as corruption, the looting of natural resources and human rights violations linked to the exploitation of minerals by companies and various actors, the lack of independence and resources of the judiciary and obstacles in the cooperation between the DRC, neighbour countries and the international community to pursue foreign war criminals and ensure their extradition.
Dr. Mukwege also thanked the European Union and the European Parliament for its work in raising awareness about the deteriorating situation in the DRC and urged the Members of the Subcommittee on Human Rights to put forward a strongly worded resolution assessing the situation in the DRC to plenary.
For all the details and interventions, you can watch the full debate again here (31.08.2020).
Dr. Mukwege founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu and has won international recognition, including the 2014 Sakharov Prize and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, for his decades of work helping thousands of women victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
He is also an outspoken advocate against the use of rape as a weapon of war, and for increased protection of women.