Joint oral statement to the Human Rights Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
11 October 2022

Joint oral statement to the Human Rights Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo

Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) delivered an oral statement on the situation of lawyers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The statement was delivered during the 51st session of the Human Rights Council.

The statement reads as follows:

Lawyers for Lawyers, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada welcome the report of the High Commissioner. We share the concerns about the attacks on human rights defenders, including lawyers.

The adequate protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms requires that everyone has effective access to justice and legal assistance. To guarantee this, it is of paramount importance that a judicial system is in place in which lawyers are able to carry out their professional activities independently and without undue interference.

Lawyers in the DRC who work on politically sensitive cases are frequently subjected to threats, intimidation, improper interference and even physical attacks by members of law enforcement agencies or the military. Lawyers in the DRC have also been subjected to judicial harassment, arrest, detention and prosecution in connection to their professional duties.

Lawyers may face administrative sanctions on the grounds of ‘discourteousness’ which is neither written nor specified in the DRC’s 1979 law on the organization of the bar. This may lead to the arbitrary disbarment of lawyers.

We urge the DRC to take immediate measures to safeguard the independence of lawyers and to provide protection against any form of undue interference with their work.

Thank you.

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