The United Nations has described as “very disturbing development,” the decision by the DR Congo government to expel its top diplomat, Scott Campbell, over a recent report by UN High Commission for Human Rights that details extrajudicial killings of civilians.
Kinshasa declared Campbell, the director of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, persona non grata on Thursday last week, a day after the publication of a UN report detailing serious human rights violations by Congolese security forces.
In a statement issued yesterday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Campbell’s expulsion and the intimidation of his team in the DR Congo, risks derailing efforts to help people whose rights are violated by elements in the Congolese security forces.
“With these acts of intimidation and reprisal, the Congolese authorities risk setting back years of strenuous efforts by UN human rights staff and some sectors of the Congolese authorities to assist victims of human rights violations and strengthen the rule of law,” Zeid said.
Zeid said he regretted and condemned the decision by the DR Congo to order his top official in the country to leave within 48 hours.
“Not only has my highly experienced and respected representative in DRC, Scott Campbell, been told to leave, but two other staff working in his team have been seriously threatened in recent days. This is unacceptable,” he added.
Campbell’s expulsion was officially confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, despite a concerted effort by Martin Kobler, the Head of the UN mission in DRC (Monusco), to persuade the Government to reconsider its decision, the statement said.
The report that caused Campbell’s expulsion is a result of investigations conducted by the UN Joint Human Rights Office that documents alleged killing of about nine civilians and the enforced disappearance another 32 by elements of the Congolese police.
“The report was shared with interior and justice ministers on August 18, and the responses of the Minister for Interior were annexed to the published version of the report,” the UN statement says.
The report was published jointly by Monusco the UN High Commission for Human Rights.
“And I join wholeheartedly with Mr Kobler in supporting its conclusions and recommendations. It describes a range of very serious violations including summary and extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances, committed against civilians by Congolese security forces. The Government of the DR Congo should be investigating its deeply disturbing findings and bringing alleged perpetrators to justice rather than seeking to punish the leader of the team that researched and produced the report,” Zeid said.
He urged authorities in of DR Congo to reconsider the decision and investigate continuing intimidation and threats against other UN human rights staff, and hold those responsible accountable.