• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Statement on the US Secretary of State Trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

August 2, 2022

In response to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announced trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, Kate Hixon, Africa Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, said:

Secretary Blinken’s trip to the region is a positive step for US engagement but will only be successful if human rights are front and center. The military escalation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been devastating for civilians. In his meetings with both the Congolese and the Rwandans, Secretary Blinken must emphasize the importance of adhering to their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and insist that justice and accountability for decades of violations must be part of a holistic approach to ending the circle of violence in Africa’s Great Lakes region.”

“While recognizing legitimate frustrations of the Congolese people on the shortfalls on the UN and DRC forces’ ability to guarantee effective security in eastern DRC, Secretary Blinken must press on the importance of the inviolability of the UN premise with his Congolese counterparts. He must call on Congolese officials to investigate and prosecute those responsible for recent acts of violence against the UN personnel and installations in North Kivu. The deaths of UN personnel, Congolese protesters and bystanders, including during the recent incident where the UN forces opened fire and killed at least two people at the Kasindi border post on Sunday July 31, must thoroughly be investigated.”

Jean-Mobert Senga, Amnesty International’s researcher for the DRC added: “In the DRC it is imperative that Secretary Blinken raise the ongoing State of Siege in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. At minimum he should ask President Tshisekedi to revoke the powers given to military courts to prosecute civilians, lift all human rights restrictions, and ensure that the State of Siege does not become permanent by outlining a clear exit strategy. In addition, he should emphasize the importance of media freedom and that one cannot arbitrarily detain journalists.”

“In Rwanda, Secretary Blinken must take this opportunity to call on President Kagame to refrain from any action that could further destabilize the region and put at risk millions of civilians in eastern DRC. In addition, he must press President Kagame on the numerous human rights violations in Rwanda, including threats and restrictions faced by human rights defenders and journalists, and should raise concerns over the failure by Rwanda to guarantee a fair trial in the case of Paul Rusesabagina.”

Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]