Congo: Senior human rights official deported

While Congo says Ida Sawyer made false declarations, group says deportation calls rights situation in country into question

Ekip   | 23.01.2017
Congo: Senior human rights official deported

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

By Godfrey Olukya

ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo

Human Rights Watch cried foul at the deportation of its top official in Democratic Republic of Congo Monday, while the government charged that she had made “false declarations” on her passport.

''Immigration authorities in the eastern city of Goma annulled her visa and escorted her to the border, in the eastern city of Goma,'' said the group in a statement about Ida Sawyer, its central Africa director.

Sawyer entered Congo on Jan. 13 on a three-month multiple entry visa that she got at the Congolese Embassy on Jan. 5 in Brussels, Belgium, where she has been based since last August, when Congolese officials revoked her work permit and told her to leave the country.

“Providing Ida Sawyer a visa one day and revoking it 15 days later calls into question the Congolese government’s commitment to reversing the climate of repression in the country,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

But Democratic Republic of Congo authorities said she was to blame.

''She is responsible for what happened. She made false declarations. She also changed the order of names in her passport,” said government spokesman Lambert Mende in a statement.

After annulling her visa, immigration officials escorted her to the border with neighboring Rwanda. Just before crossing, she was given a document saying the conditions for obtaining the visa had not been fulfilled, said the group.

The deportation follows a New Year’s Eve deal under which President Joseph Kabila will face elections by the end of 2017, delayed from last November.

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