Draft law dims fu­ture of NGO’s in DRC

African Times - - International/Africa - JEAN KASSONGO IN KINSHASA, DRC

THE fu­ture of non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs) looks gloomy in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) fol­low­ing plans to effect a draft law aimed at reg­u­lat­ing their work.The bill in­tro­duces new re­stric­tions aimed at re­duc­ing the num­ber of NGOs op­er­at­ing in the Cen­tral African coun­try.

It is ex­pected to be con­sid­ered be­fore the end of this ses­sion of Par­lia­ment on June 15.United Na­tions hu­man rights ex­perts have urged Par­lia­ment to re­vise the law.

The ex­perts said when passed in its cur­rent form, the bill would threaten the rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and as­so­ci­a­tion and fur­ther re­strict the civic space.

Among the con­cerned ex­perts in­clude Cle­ment Nyalet­sossi Voulé (UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on the rights to free­dom of peace­ful as­sem­bly and as­so­ci­a­tion), (Michel Forst, spe­cial rap­por­teur on the sit­u­a­tion of hu­man rights de­fend­ers) and David Kaye, the spe­cial rap­por­teur on the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of the right to free­dom of opin­ion and ex­pres­sion.

They are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about some pro­vi­sions, some de­nounced as

too vague, which im­pose heavy and dis­cre­tionary ad­min­is­tra­tive re­quire­ments for the reg­is­tra­tion of as­so­ci­a­tions.

There is a lack of ju­di­cial re­view of the reg­is­tra­tion process and the bill in­tro­duces re­stric­tions on ac­cess to do­mes­tic and for­eign fund­ing and on the possibility for for­eign or­ga­ni­za­tions to en­gage in “po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

“All these de­mands threaten the abil­ity of civil so­ci­ety to carry out their ac­tiv­i­ties, and un­der­line a de­sire to muz­zle dis­sent­ing voices,” the ex­perts jointly stated.

“If passed, the bill will likely cre­ate con­fu­sion and fear among civil so­ci­ety, and act as a de­ter­rent to hu­man rights de­fend­ers and other ac­tivists.

”The new le­gal frame­work could hin­der the role of civil so­ci­ety, which is more cru­cial in this elec­tion year, con­cluded the ex­perts. DRC heads to elec­tions be­fore the end of the year.It is be­set by mil­i­tancy af­ter Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila (47), in power for 17 years, failed to cede power at the ex­piry of his term in 2016. Over 4 mil­lion peo­ple, or 5 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, have been dis­placed by con­flict.

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