As delivered by Ambassador Veronika Bard, Permanent Representative of Sweden.
The Nordic countries welcome the report and recommendations on the DRC by the High Commissioner. We also commend the work undertaken by the Joint Human Rights Office, despite the restrictions faced.
We stress our grave concern over the serious, and numerous, human rights violations and abuses taking place in the DRC in general, and in the Kasaïs in particular, including against women and children.
A long-term solution to the political crisis is a prerequisite for any improvement of the human rights situation. In this regard, the considerable reduction of political space, and other violations of civil and political rights, is extremely alarming. While commending positive steps taken by the government with regards to the fight against sexual and gender-based violence and the release of some political prisoners, we call for measures to ensure the respect for human rights and to build further confidence. We are deeply concerned about the increasing number of conflict-affected persons. We expect the government to ensure that their human rights are respected and protected, including for internally displaced persons and refugees.
The Nordic countries echo the conclusions of the report – without a political solution, the DRC will not stabilize, and the suffering of the Congolese people will continue. We call upon the DRC government to
1, immediately take action on all recommendations in the report. This includes initiating confidence-building measures which would allow for the long overdue progress towards credible, free and fair elections. We emphasize the importance of full and equal political participation of women as well as allowing human rights defenders, media and journalists to safely carry out their work, – a cornerstone of any democracy.
2, collaborate with the Joint Human Rights Office, MONUSCO and the investigation, mandated by this council, into the Kasaï atrocities;
3, ensure that the DRC‘s defence and security forces fully respect international human rights- and humanitarian law, including by reinforcing oversight and accountability mechanisms.
As a final point, we urge the DRC government to fully and thoroughly investigate the killings of the two UN experts (Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp) and to fully cooperate with other investigations on the issue.