Ecumenical News International

Christian aid agencies call on foreign minister to press for human rights in Africa

February 18, 2015

Berlin (epd). Christian aid agencies have called on German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) to speak out for human rights during his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He should urge the government to allow human rights activists, journalists and opposition members to operate freely and independently, according to a statement issued by the ecumenical network for Central Africa. Any curtailing of the right to freedom of expression must be condemned, says the organization.

Steinmeier is due to leave today for a five-day tour of Africa. Besides DRC he plans stop-overs in Rwanda and Kenya. Past weeks have seen an increase in protests ending in violence in DRC, with at least 40 people killed. The opposition has accused President Joseph Kabila of delaying the presidential and parliamentary elections in order to extend his term of office. The elections are now planned for November 2016.

Furthermore, the ecumenical network called on the foreign minister to oppose illegal extraction and trade with minerals from Congo. This business was fuelling conflicts in the region, it explained. The federal government must "press for rules binding on companies along the whole value chain".

The members of the ecumenical network include Bread for the World - Protestant Development Service, the United Evangelical Mission, Misereor, pax christi and the Association for Development Cooperation.



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