November 28, 2020

DRC: Elections feud goes on to Human rights researcher ‘persona non grata’

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has blocked a human rights researcher from continuing to work in the country, in what her rights organization says is the “latest attempt to curtail human rights reporting during a period of increased government repression” there.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the DRC government has revoked the work permit of Ida Sawyer, a senior researcher, after renewing her three-year work permit in May 2016. Sawyer has worked in the DRC since 2008.

Human Rights Watch says immigration authorities on July 3 “unexpectedly and without explanation” annulled her new permit as Sawyer passed through Kinshasa’s main airport following a trip abroad.

The group says Sawyer filed a new request for a work permit, but it was denied on Monday and she was instructed to leave the country within 48 hours.

Supportes of Congo opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi hold up a cross that symbolizes no third term for Congo President Joseph Kabila

The rights group said no reason was given for the denial of a new permit, and it says the researcher, who examines human rights abuses, will comply with the instructions to leave.

“immigration authorities informed Sawyer that her request was denied and that she was to leave the country within 48 hours. No reason for the denial of a new permit was provided. Sawyer will leave Congo within the allotted time frame”, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch said the Congolese government has, since January 2015, imposed a “brutal crackdown” on those who have spoken out or opposed attempts to extend the authority of President Joseph Kabila beyond his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ends December 19.

Senior government officials say elections cannot be held before the end of the year because of technical, logistical and financial constraints.

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Théogène U

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