DRC planned social media shutdown, UN "deeply alarmed"

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

A social media shutdown by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to go into effect on Sunday night has been criticized by the UN Human Rights chief.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he was "deeply alarmed" at the blackout and continuing ban on demonstrations by opponents of President Joseph Kabila.

Matthew Wells reports.

Monday marks the end of President Kabila's second term in office, and the constitution prohibits him from running again.

He has made no announcement that he is willing to relinquish power ahead of the deadline, which has drawn condemnation from opposition and civil society groups.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said worry was exacerbated as Monday also marks three months since 54 people died in the capital Kinshasa, after defence and security forces used excessive force against demonstrators calling for the president to step down.

No-one has been held accountable for the deaths to date, said Zeid.

"Intimidating and targeting opponents and civil society is not the answer," he added, saying that clamping down on free expression online as well as demonstrators, would increase the likelihood of violence.

The UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC has documented at least 45 arrests of people trying to exercise their right to peaceful assembly during December.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.


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