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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 23, 1998


Democratic Republic of the Congo

The United States Government is concerned about recent events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC) precipitating the departure of the United Nations human rights investigation team from the region, ending the team's important investigative work on past human rights abuses. Although we would have preferred that circumstances would have allowed the team to finish its mandate, we understand the Secretary General's decision to withdraw the team because of the failure of the government of the DROC to cooperate fully with the UN team. Since the start of the investigation, the U.S. Government consistently has supported the team's work and urged the DROC government to allow the team to conduct a fair and independent investigation. A thorough field investigation by the team of human rights abuses would have contributed to promoting urgently needed reconciliation and helped the DROC move further along the path towards democratic reform.

Similarly, lack of progress on overall political reform, such as banning of political party activity; banning a leading human rights organization; exiling one of the country's prominent opposition leaders; and trying civilians in military courts, calls into question the commitment of the government to democratic principles. We urge the government of President Kabila to pursue policies which support democracy, human rights and freedom of speech and association.

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