UN Warns of Pre-Election Rights Violations in DRC

Posted November 9th, 2011 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations says it has documented a “worrying number” of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo that appear to be tied to the country's upcoming elections.

In a report released Wednesday, the U.N. human rights office warned the trend could hurt the democratic process in Congo and spark violence after the November 28 polls.

The agency said that during a ten-month period beginning in November of last year, it documented at least 188 cases linked to the electoral process. They included infringement of people's right to express themselves, assemble peacefully and to be free and secure.

The U.N. said most of the incidents involved elements of the Congolese National Police or the National Intelligence Service targeting members or supporters of opposition parties.

The report said civilians were threatened, beaten and arrested on several occasions by police agents for wearing opposition parties' T-shirts.

There were also instances of violence committed by supporters of political parties.

The U.N. urged the government and political leaders to promote and respect human rights.

It also called on the international community to step up its efforts in training DRC security forces, which it said are “heavily underpaid and poorly trained and equipped.”

Campaigning has formally begun in Congo, where President Joseph Kabila faced a divided opposition during the election.

Mr. Kabila has been president since 2001, when he took office after the death of his father, Laurent Kabila. He won the country's last presidential election in 2006.