Air strikes on residential areas in the south eastern Pool region of Congo that have reportedly resulted in deaths, casualties and the destruction of properties, including churches, schools and medical facilities represent an unlawful use of lethal force by the security forces, Amnesty International said today.
They are a clear violation of the country’s international human rights obligations, including the right to life and should be subject to a thorough, independent and impartial investigation. Eyewitnesses told the organization that on 5 April, helicopters dropped at least 30 bombs on residential areas including a school in the town of Vindza where the target was a house which used to be the residence of Pastor Frederic Ntumi, leader of the “Ninjas” armed group. The government blamed the “Ninjas” for the 4 April violence in the capital Brazzaville. Subsequently the towns of Soumouna and Mayama have come under attack. An eyewitness told Amnesty International that she saw at least 30 dead bodies between Soumouna and Ngula a village located some 8 km.
The Republic of Congo’s refusal of entry and return of an Amnesty International research manager on mission is another worrying sign of the government’s attempt to muzzle criticism ahead of Presidential elections, Amnesty International said today.
Late on Friday 26 February, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Stephen Cockburn, was refused entry at the border and sent back to Dakar, despite having a valid visa, invitation letter and confirmations of meetings with authorities including the Minister of Defense and officials from the Ministry of Justice.
“Stifling independent human rights monitoring is unacceptable, and will do little to build confidence as Congo prepares for elections, especially in a context where political opponents have been detained and protestors killed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Research and Advocacy Director.
Security forces in the Republic of Congo must refrain from using excessive force against protesters, Amnesty International said today.
Five people are reported to have been killed among reports that the police used live ammunition against protesters who gathered to demonstrate against the proposed changes to the country’s constitution ahead of Sunday’s referendum.
“A heavy-handed response by security forces not only violates the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, but may enflame an already tense situation,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher.
“The use of force and the deaths of protesters must be independently, impartially and effectively investigated and if there are grounds to suspect individuals of criminal responsibility they must be brought to justice.”
Media freedom is also under threat with mobile Internet services, text messaging and the signal of some radio stations cut in Brazzaville.
Posted at 0001hrs GMT 2 July 2015
Police violence, persecution, arbitrary detentions and rape amid a security operation to deport tens of thousands of DR Congo nationals from Congo-Brazzaville last year were part of widespread attacks that could amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
The organization calls for a halt of all current plans of mass expulsions of foreign nationals from the Republic of Congo and for all of those unlawfully expelled to be allowed to return, if they so desire.
Operation Mbata ya Bakolo: mass expulsions of foreign nationals in the Republic of Congo documents a range of human rights violations and crimes under international law committed by Congolese security forces and others from April to September last year. During this period, at least 179,000 DRC nationals, including many refugees and asylum seekers, were rounded up, arbitrarily arrested, and forced to leave Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville).
Authorities in the Republic of Congo must immediately release two teachers arrested in connection with a peaceful strike and held for a week without charge, Amnesty International said today.
Hilaire Eyima, head of the French department at the school Lycée de la Révolution, was arrested by plainclothes police officers at his home on 18 April. He is still being held at the headquarters of the General Directorate for the Surveillance of the Territory (DGST).
Claude Nzingoula, a teacher at the medical school in the capital Brazzaville, was arrested on Friday 19 April at his school and was also taken to the DGST headquarters, where he has been detained since.
“Hilaire Eyima and Claude Nzingoula are only detained for standing up for their rights. The continuing detention of these two prisoners of conscience is a blatant disregard to freedom of expression and assembly by the Congolese authorities” said Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International's deputy Africa Program director.
The two teachers have reportedly been denied access to a lawyer of their choice.
Amnesty International has adopted them as prisoners of conscience.
The Allard Prize for International Integrity and The Centre for Feminist Legal Studies at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC will host a film screening and panel discussion on combatting crimes of sexual violence, featuring “Fighting the Silence,” a globally acclaimed documentary about sexual violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Fighting the Silence” tells the story of ordinary Congolese women and men who are struggling to change their society. Rape survivors and their families speak out openly about the suffering they endured because their culture considers women second class citizens and rape a taboo.
The panel discussion following the screening will focus on issues raised by the film and discuss the broader context of seeking accountability for crimes of sexual violence, both internationally and domestically. A reception will follow.