The UN said it was “deeply alarmed” by the actions of security forces in DR Congo during anti-Kabila protests in Kinshasa last Sunday, and believe the toll of victims during the crackdown “may be higher”.
“Our colleagues on the ground were denied access to morgues, hospitals and detention centres. They were sent away from some sites by defence and security forces,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said from Geneva in a statement on Friday.
“The security forces allegedly fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas grenades, in some cases at point blank range,” the statement added.
The organisation said at least five people were known to have been killed and 92 injured. Around 180 were arrested, most of whom have now been released, it said.
The DRC government said nobody was killed Sunday in connection with the marches, which were organised by the Catholic Church.
Credible and independent investigations
Together with opposition groups, the Church was demanding that President Joseph Kabila – in power since the assassination of his father in 2001 – will declare he will not stand for re-election in 2018.
The protests took place on the first anniversary of a deal under which Kabila was scheduled to leave office in 2017 after fresh elections.
The poll has since been postponed until December 2018. Western powers have accepted the delay with reluctance, hoping it will avoid bloodshed and encourage stability in this vast and volatile central African country.
The OHCHR called for “credible and independent investigations into alleged use of excessive force”.
“The Government should ensure that everyone, including political opponents, journalists and civil society representatives, are able to fully exercise their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, opinion, and expression,” it said.