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DRC Spokesman Defends Expulsion of UN Human Rights Official

DRC Communication minister and government spokesman, Lambert Mende (file photo)
DRC Communication minister and government spokesman, Lambert Mende (file photo)

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has defended the expulsion of Scott Campbell, the director of the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO).

Campbell was declared persona non grata last week after the release of a U.N. report detailing serious human rights violations by Congolese security forces.

The head of the U.N. Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) expressed his full confidence in Campbell and called on Kinshasa to reconsider its decision.

The U.S. State Department Monday said the United States reaffirms its strong support of the U.N. and its commitment to fight impunity of human rights violations. It also urged the DRC government to reverse its decision.

But DRC Information Minister Lambert Mende said, while his country appreciates the partnership it has with the U.N., Campbell deserved to be expelled because the report he issued was full of lies.

“Let me say that the U.N. and our government are in a partnership to help us enhance the level of human rights in this country. But, I would like to say that, for three years now, we have been telling our U.N. partner that we are not at all satisfied with the way Mr. Campbell has been doing things,” he said.

Mende said instead of playing his role as a U.N. human rights expert, Campbell became a sort of political militant bent on discrediting the DRC.

“So, for three years, we say enough is enough. Let’s just say that we disagree; Scott Campbell is expelled and will stay expelled. We take notice that they are not happy with that decision, but we are a sovereign state,” Mende said.

The report, which the U.N. said is based on investigations by UNJHRO, described a range of “very serious violations, including summary and extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances committed against civilians by Congolese security forces.”

Mende said that’s exactly why Campbell was declared persona non grata, for lying.

“He has been spending all his time visiting our institutions, refusing any cooperation with our justice and police. Instead, he has been visiting radio and television stations and newspapers to bastardize our government and spreading lies. When an expert is just busy spreading lies, we have the right to ask ourselves what is the reason of him being in this country,” Mende said.

The report was published jointly by MONUSCO and the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office.