FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2020
Washington, DC – (En Francais) A judiciary reform bill being considered in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Parliament is attempting to undermine the Judiciary’s autonomy. If passed, the Judiciary will be answerable to the Minister of Justice, a politically appointed position of the Executive Branch. The DRC’s Constitution states that each branch of the government is autonomous, so if passed the bill would be changing the essential structure of the Republic. Also constitutional revisions are illegal during a state of urgency, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many Congolese assert that if this bill passes, it would halt the progress made by the Judiciary and supported by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi with tackling corruption.
Ntama Bahati, Policy Analyst of the Africa Faith and Justice Network who is a DRC native who has been working on issues of good governance and anti-corruption reforms over the last 13 years, made the following statement:
- “We acknowledge the good work of some judges to bring those who were above the law to justice. While recent cases have returned millions of dollars to the DRC National Treasury, if the Judiciary loses its autonomy it will no longer be able to prosecute corrupt officials and the DRC will be unable to recover billions more dollars of stolen funds.
- “It is essential for the DRC Judiciary to remain autonomous so that it can do its job without interference from other branches of government. Any weakening of the Judiciary, anything contrary to the DRC Constitution, is a weakening of the DRC as a whole. Justice is not for a few – it is for All Congolese.
- “The DRC is in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unthinkable that representatives are legislating to enable corruption and further embezzle public funds and COVID-19 aid monies, instead of preparing for post-pandemic recovery.”
The Africa Faith & Justice Network is a faith-based, non-partisan coalition of 29 US-based religious communities of men and women. Inspired by the Gospel and informed by Catholic Social Teaching, AFJN seeks to educate and advocate for just relations with Africa and to work in partnership with African peoples as they engage in the struggle for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. www.afjn.org
Available for Interview:
Ntama Bahati, Policy Analyst
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Contact: Lydia Andrews, Communications Manager
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