Civil society movements continue to be targetted in DRC

Youth activists Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala continue to languish in prison after their arrest in 2015 during a workshop launching the 'Filimbi' campaign. On 15th March this year, police arrested at least 18 activists from the Goma-based LUCHA movement during a silent vigil organised to mark the one year anniversary of Bauma and Makwambala's imprisonment. Protests on 26th May involving opposition parties and civil society groups led to violence, clashes with police and arrests in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. In contrast, pro-government demonstrations on 14th June passed off peacefully. Police have also taken preemptive action against organisers of '#villemort' protests in Kinshasa and Goma, organised in an attempt to force the government to hold elections by December 2016. On 15th and 16th February nine people were arrested and six of them were initially given two year prison sentences, which were later reduced on appeal. Activists describe a climate of fear in the DRC at present, with those daring to oppose the government or criticise attempts to delay elections being targetted by arrests, detention or threats. Following the Panama Papers revelations, a government minister publicly threatened to imprison journalists who report on allegations involving members of the president's family.