Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) soldiers who apparently entered and violated a UN office in Kasai province have earned the strong condemnation of a high-ranking UN official.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General in DRC, Maman Sidikou, was speaking after a group of soldiers allegedly forced their way into a MONUSCO office in Kananga recently. They were allegedly in pursuit of a local journalist who sought refuge in the UN office.
The DRC soldiers were allegedly under the command of General Marcellin Assumani, Commander of the Congolese Army operations in Kasai region.
“The UN is concerned by this serious incident, particularly as it was carried out under direct orders from a senior officer. UN premises remain inviolable under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the UN and the DRC government, as well as the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
“The UN calls on the government of the DRC to uphold its obligations under the SOFA, and other relevant agreements.
“We also call on government to hold those involved fully accountable and to take necessary measures to prevent a repetition of this deeply regrettable incident”, Sidikou said.
Additionally, given the context in which this regrettable incident occurred, the Special Representative used this opportunity to, again, reiterate the UN’s concern about the shrinking space for journalists to exercise their functions in the country.
“Press freedom is one of the pillars of democracy. The harassment and threats to which journalists are increasingly subjected are signs of shrinking freedom of expression, not in line with the expected measures to ease political tensions in the DRC.”