Oral statement on UPR outcome
20 September 2019

Oral statement on UPR outcome

Democratic Republic of Congo

On 19 September 2019, Lawyers for Lawyers delivered an oral statement during the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council. During this session, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Outcome Report of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was adopted. Lawyers for Lawyers had already submitted a NGO-submission for the UPR-session of the DRC.

The statement reads as follows:

Mr President,

Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the decision of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to accept all the recommendations relating to the protection of human rights defenders. We urge the Democratic Republic of the Congo to accept and implement these recommendations without delay.

Further improvement of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo requires access to legal services provided by a legal profession that is able to work independently, safely and freely.

However, according our information, the proper functioning of the judicial system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is undermined due to the increasingly deteriorating position of the legal profession. Lawyers are frequently subject to threats, intimidation and improper interference by members of law enforcement agencies, the military and even the judiciary. Some lawyers have been arrested, subjected to criminal investigations and prosecuted. Moreover, the independent status of the Congolese bar associations is questionable; several lawyers have been disbarred or are facing disbarment or other disciplinary actions on improper grounds. Finally, the freedom of expression of lawyers is restricted and even further threatened by new legislative proposals.

Therefore, we urge the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure the proper functioning of its judicial system by taking immediate measures to ensure lawyers’ safety and ability to work without improper interference, to guarantee the independence of the Congolese bar associations and to refrain from any actions frustrating lawyers’ freedom of expression. 

Thank you.

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