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Press statement regarding the expulsion of Jason Stearns from the DR Congo

The Center on International Cooperation is deeply concerned by the expulsion of Jason Stearns from the Democratic Republic of Congo on April 7, 2016.

The official reason for the expulsion by the Congolese authorities was the “undesirability” of Mr. Stearns, the director of CIC’s Congo Research Group (CRG). They also referred to the recent report by CRG on the massacres around Beni.

On March 21, 2016 CRG published a report entitled “Who are the killers of Beni?” about the massacres around the town of Beni in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Our conclusions are based on over 110 interviews with survivors, local authorities, and participants in the attacks.

The report’s main recommendation calls for a comprehensive investigation into the killings.

Shortly thereafter, the government denounced the report and misrepresented its findings in doing so.

Contrary to the government’s claims, the report does not conclude that the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) as an institution are responsible for the massacres around Beni—rather, it found that some of its soldiers were involved, as well as members of the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) and former members of the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie-Kisangani/Mouvement de libération (RCD-K/ML)—both of which oppose the government. The report does not exempt the ADF, which, the report concludes, likely bears the greatest responsibility for these massacres.

Congolese authorities have made statements regarding immigration irregularities committed by Mr. Stearns. These are minor procedural matters, which we are taking steps to address: CRG will soon submit a request for another visa for Mr. Stearns.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Congolese authorities and with other members of Congolese society on issues of national importance.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The Congo Research Group (CRG), part of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, is an independent research organization dedicated to understanding political and security dynamics in Congo. Stearns, who has worked in and on Congo for 15 years, founded the organization in 2015.