Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in the Republic of the Congo to promote democracy and human rights. For background on the Republic of the Congo’s human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The United States remains committed to promoting democratic principles, practices, values, and human rights in the country. One key U.S. priority is to promote better comprehension of democratic principles and the need for civic participation. The U.S. Government encourages the government to conduct free and fair elections and has received funding in Economic Support Funds to assist Congolese electoral systems for the 2012 parliamentary elections. These funds will be implemented in partnership with UN assistance to train civil society groups, educate voters, and provide media opportunities for civil society groups for voter education. The U.S. Government also seeks to improve transparency in accounting for oil revenues and other public funds through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process. Another important area of focus is children's rights. The U.S. Government has strongly supported the creation of a children's rights law, which was passed by parliament in 2009 and signed into law in April 2010 by President Sassou Nguesso.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

Public diplomacy remains a key component of the United States' efforts to promote democratic principles and civic participation in the country. An American cultural facility hosts approximately 1,000 Congolese visitors each month and provides English classes and weekly English club meetings, which provide a platform for promoting U.S. objectives. The Embassy Information Resource Center hosts approximately 1,000 visitors each month and provides English and French reading materials, educational advising, and computer access for research activities. Before it was closed, an American Corner in Pointe Noire was similarly successful. The U.S. Government plans to reopen the American Corner in 2011. The number of applicants for programs to visit the United States, as well as other educational programs, increased during 2009-2010. The number of Fulbright recipients for the ROC increased from three to five from 2009-2010. The U.S. Government's allocation of International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants also increased from two to three from 2009-2010. Participation in these programs exposes persons to American culture and understanding of American democratic values. The United States also hosted workshops on women's rights, new media in journalism, and trafficking in persons. In 2010 the U.S. Government hosted a women's day event promoting women's rights in which over 1,000 Congolese youth participated. The U.S. Government also hosted a workshop on new media for Congolese journalists in which 25 individuals were trained. The U.S. Government is slated to hold a Digital Video Conference (DVC) on press freedom in May 2010.

In communications with the government, and in cooperation with the international community, the United States continues to stress the need for the government to conduct free and fair elections and to improve governance, particularly in the area of transparency in accounting for oil revenues and other public funds. The United States supported local NGOs in presenting informational workshops on combating trafficking in persons; human rights and the rights of individuals detained or arrested; and the rights of women and persons with disabilities. Greater military discipline, professionalism, and respect for human rights are core objectives of U.S. interactions in civil-military dialogue and military training exchanges. The U.S. Government has developed a military relationship between the autonomous port in Point Noire and Coast Guard in order to improve port security. The U.S. Government is also providing two West Point cadets in 2010 to train military and civilians in English.

The United States works with local NGOs and UN assistance to promote children's rights. In 2009 the parliament passed a law that outlaws trafficking in children and imposes penalties for such actions. This legislation was signed into law by President Sassou in April 2010.A magistrate who benefited from a program to visit the United States has become an important ally in promoting children's issues and rights, and the U.S. Government partnered with this individual's NGO in order to conduct a workshop on combating trafficking in persons. The United States also supported poverty reduction campaigns in the form of housing projects and food security, with 140,000 school children receiving school lunches.

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