National legislative proposal for the protection of HRDs: consideration of the draft legislation has been shelved at the National Assembly since 2011, despite efforts by a follow-up committee (comité de suivi) of CSOs based in Kinshasa and with regional representation to arouse interest of legislators in its passing during 2013.[1] The speaker of the parliamentary majority has argued that the bill has been rejected on grounds of unconstitutionality – HRDs not being a special category of citizens requiring special treatment. The follow-up committee has requested the opinion of counter experts on constitutionality, while seeking to revise and hone the bill so it can be submitted once again.

Some sectors of civil society hope that HRD protection will gain new traction in the national political debate once the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH in French), which was setup in early 2013, becomes operational – although this is not part of its remit. However, human rights NGOs remain divided over the appointment of the commission’s civil society representative, thus hampering its normal functioning.[2]

Provincial bills (édits provinciaux): With the lack of progress on the national bill in Kinshasa, a group of local CSOs and members of South Kivu province’s legislative assembly expressed their interest in picking up the regional legislation again following a workshop held in Bukavu in early September 2014. At the hour of this report’s publication in late October 2014, five members of the provincial assembly had already accepted to endorse the bill in coming parliamentary discussions.

Liaison bodies (entités de liaison): In South Kivu, no progress has been recorded on the establishment of the provincial liaison body.[3] Its launch was tarnished by a row between the provincial governor, whose office concentrates many of the unit’s powers, and civil society representatives. Thanks to mediation efforts by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (Bureau Conjoint des Nations Unies aux Droits de l’Homme, BCNUDH) and PI no further incidents have been recorded, but the unit has not yet been convened. In North Kivu, the liaison body became operational in July 2014.

Civil society initiatives: After supporting the setup of a civil society-led protection mechanism for HRDs in Kinshasa – the Human Rights House (la maison des droits humains), with over 250 member organisations – the Carter Center (TCC) facilitated the creation of a similar initiative in Goma (North Kivu) in June 2014, and is considering doing the same in Katanga province. The North Kivu mechanism is called “Ukingo Wetu” and is run by local human rights organisations. It aims to mobilise resources to provide holistic support to HRDs at risk, including the provision of protective measures, national and international advocacy activities and capacity  building on security management for local organisations.[4]


PI has been involved in the discussions of the draft legislation in South Kivu provincial, providing technical support to civil society and provincial legislators on public policy approaches to HRD protection. PI closely monitors the ongoing discussions on the national draft legislation in the follow-up committee in Kinshasa and accompanies civil society in protection cases advanced by the liaison bodies in South and North Kivu.

[1] See Focus Report 2013. op. cit. p. 11.

[2] Interview with PI representative in Kinshasa. Brussels. 20 August 2014.

[3] See Focus Report 2013. op. cit. p. 11.

[4] Centre de Recherches su l’Environnement, la Démocratie et les Droits del’Homme (CREDDHO). “Un mécanisme local de protection dénommé  ‘Synergie UKINGO WETU’ est dejà à pied d’oeuvre dans la province du Nord Kivu”. Unspecified date.