Critical civil society threatened by new NGO bill in Congo

Critical civil society threatened by new NGO bill in Congo

Association

An new nongovernmental organisations (NGO) bill being considered by parliament has been severely criticised by organised civil society in the Republic of the Congo. The new law will replace the a 1901 law governing legal personality for civil and religious organisations. According to a report by four prominent CSOs – Meeting for Peace and Human Rights (RPHD), the Diocesan Commission Justice and Peace (CDJP), the Niosi Foundation and the Network of Young Congolese Leaders’ Association (RAJLC) - the new law will limit civil society freedoms by allowing excessive state interference with civil society activities. The fact that the bill would allow for the prohibition of any association which criticises public institutions is seen as a backlash against those organisations focused on corruption, corporate transparency and governance issues. The Niosi Foundation, RPDH, RAJLC and JPEC are demanding the removal of the bill from parliamentary discussion and the involvement in civil society in public consultations leading to the drafting of a new NGO bill. The four organisations stated:

"Au stade actuel, ce texte constitue une entrave à la liberté d’association et témoigne, sans même chercher à le dissimuler, une volonté manifeste de contrôler les activités de la société civile en réduisant le champ de leur liberté et marge de manœuvre."