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NEW YORK (April 5, 2024) — Last week, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted contributions to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Qatar.

“In these countries, we continue to see how the regimes diminish and completely ignore democratic principles and basic rights under international law,” HRF Chief Advocacy Officer Roberto González said. “Despite their varying cultural, historical, and religious backdrops, all five countries have shown either a total disregard for, or a significant erosion of, the essential elements of democracy. The facts in these UPRs speak for themselves. We must continue to support dissidents and activists in these countries.”

In its submission on the Democratic Republic of Congo, HRF highlighted the continuing rise of violence in the eastern provinces, including alarming rates of gender-based violence and rape, and called on the DRC to urgently implement measures to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. The submission also documented the regime’s “martial law” in the eastern provinces, which has failed to stop rising violence and has instead resulted in violations of the rights to freedom from arbitrary detention and due process.

In the individual submission for Equatorial Guinea, HRF emphasized the systematic human rights violations under the regime of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue — the world’s longest-ruling dictator — which include widespread arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions exceeding the 72-hour national legal limit, and the persistent use of torture and ill-treatment in the country’s prisons.

HRF’s submission on Nicaragua reflected the country’s worsening human rights situation and creeping totalitarianism. The 2018 political crisis led the regime to adopt tougher and more repressive policies against its critics. In 2021, just a few months before the general election, the regime also adopted a policy of excarceration in exchange for forced exile, resulting in the expulsion of hundreds of political prisoners, who were later declared “traitors” and stripped of their citizenship.

In its individual submission for North Korea, HRF emphasized that the totalitarian situation in North Korea has not improved since its 2019 review. HRF highlighted North Korea’s failure to adopt and ratify numerous key international treaties and documented the systematic and routine use of forced labor, torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, commonly practiced in detention centers and prison camps, as well as tight regulations on all forms of communication.

Qatar, a gulf country ruled by an absolute monarchy, also exhibits a dismal record of human rights abuses. During this recent UPR cycle, HRF highlighted the Qatari regime’s persistent failure to protect the rights of migrants and women through the Kafala system and its Penal Code.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

For further information about HRF’s impact litigation program, please email [email protected]. For interview requests, please email [email protected].