Responding to the news that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government wants to resume executions, after a hiatus of two decades, in a bid to combat armed groups and gang violence, Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, said:

“The government’s decision to reinstate executions is a gross injustice for people sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo and shows a callous disregard for the right to life. It is a huge step backwards for the country and a further sign that the Tshisekedi administration is backtracking on its commitment to respect human rights.

“Whether those who have been sentenced to death are in the national army or police, in armed groups or have been involved in gang violence, everyone has a right to life and for that right to be protected. This heartless decision will endanger the lives of hundreds of people who have been sentenced to death, including those who were put on death row following unfair trials and politically motivated charges.

“With an inefficient and ineffective justice system, which President Tshisekedi has himself described as ‘sick’, the government’s appalling move means many innocent people are now at risk of execution. This is even more alarming given the ongoing crackdown on political opponents, human rights activists and journalists.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The government of the DRC must immediately halt any plans to resume executions and establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception – regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.

BACKGROUND

The last known executions in DRC took place in 2003.
On 13 March 2024, the DRC’s Minister of Justice formally notified the judicial authorities of the government’s decision to resume executions for a series of crimes. The government justified its decision by the need to combat “treason” within the army at a time when the DRC is facing an escalation of armed conflicts, notably with the resurgence of the armed group Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) supported by Rwanda, and the need to put an end to deadly gang violence in several cities, including the capital Kinshasa.
The Congolese justice system is plagued by numerous problems, and trials rarely meet fair trial standards as documented by Amnesty International and other organizations.
President Tshisekedi himself has on several occasions complained publicly about the malfunctioning of the justice system in the DRC, including by describing it as “sick” earlier this year.

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