DRC president pardons 700 political prisoners

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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi has pardoned about 700 political prisoners jailed under the regime of his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

The prisoners were pardoned on Wednesday after President Tshisekedi signed a decree granting their freedom, fulfilling a promise he made to release the prisoners within his first 100 days of being in office. Among those due to be released is Firmin Yangambi who was sentenced to 20-years jail term in 2009 on charges of being a threat to national security.

Tshisekedi pardons political prisoners

Amnesty International praised Tshisekedi for pardoning the political prisoners, saying it was a move “to be applauded as a crucial first step towards restoration of human rights in the country” in a statement.

Felix Tshisekedi was the surprise winner of the DRC’s long-awaited presidential election in December but questions remain over the country’s human rights record. His election win was shrouded in doubt over the legitimacy of the vote and fears that his predecessor Joseph Kabila still holds strong influence over the nation’s new government.

While Amnesty International has praised the move to release political prisoners, the organisation insists more needs to be done to improve the DRC’s worrying track record on human rights.

“His administration must now go further and guarantee that no one else is arrested, detained or prosecuted simply for expressing their opinions or for peacefully exercising their human rights,” Amnesty’s International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson, said in the same statement.

“Much remains to be done to improve the country’s dire human rights record. It is essential that those responsible for violating human rights in the DRC are held accountable, and victims receive appropriate reparations.”

Featured image: By VOA / Arsène Séverin – https://www.voaafrique.com/a/rencontre-de-tshisekedi-et-sassou-n-guesso-%C3%A0-brazzaville/4777435.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76541935

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.