Expelled rights researcher returns to DRC

2017-01-19 13:36
(Picture via Web)

(Picture via Web)

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Kinshasa - A researcher with the US-based Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday she had been allowed to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo which expelled her last year.

"I'm very happy to be back .. after I was barred from working here last August," Sawyer said on Twitter.

"I hope this reflects a broader effort by the government to respect freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and that other human rights activists will be allowed to carry out their work freely," she added.

Sawyer has been in Goma, capital of the northern Kivu province "for some days", a source close to HRW told AFP.

DRC announced last August that Sawyer's visa would not be renewed, giving no reason for a decision that effectively expelled her.

Sawyer has carried out research across DRC since 2008, as well as in parts of neighbouring countries occupied by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

Highly active in DRC, HRW regularly denounces human rights violations there.

Political tensions rose as President Joseph Kabila neared the end of his second and final term in office in December after 16 years in power, but showed no sign of leaving.

Scores of people have been killed in clashes before and since the deadline, with the Church leading efforts to reach a deal between the government and opposition on a way out of the crisis.

A new political deal foresees the appointment of a new prime minister and a transitional body to pave the way to elections in December 2017 that could finally bring an end to Kabila's rule.

The United State had been calling for Sawyer to be allowed to return to the DRC.

"The forced departure of this researcher... is incompatible with efforts to support greater transparency, accountability and democracy in the DRC," a US State Department spokesperson said in August.

Read more on:    hrw  |  joseph ­kabila  |  drc  |  east africa

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