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Democratic Republic of Congo

    July 27, 2016

    The release yesterday of six youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo by way of presidential pardons will be seen as little more than an exercise in window dressing unless all prisoners of conscience and others detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights are freed, said Amnesty International.

    Rebecca Kavugho, Serge Sivyavugha, Justin Kambale Mutsongo, Melka Kamundu, John Anipenda and Ghislain Muhiwa were released from Munzenze Prison with less than a month left to serve on their six-month sentence imposed for charges of “attempting to incite disobedience.”

    “While it is good news that the six are finally free to reunite with their families, their release at the tail-end of an unjust prison term resulting from trumped up charges is nothing to celebrate. They should never have been jailed in the first place,” said Christian Rumu, Amnesty International’s Great Lakes Campaigner.

    July 18, 2016

    As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, begins his four-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Michelle Kagari said:

    “We are witnessing a crackdown of dissenting voices in the DRC ahead of elections supposed to be held in November. Arrests of activists and harassment of civil society are becoming commonplace.”

    “The High Commissioner’s visit should mark a turning point away from this repression. He should call on the authorities to honour their international obligations to uphold human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

    Amnesty International requests that the High Commissioner makes the following calls on the DRC authorities:

    June 02, 2016
    DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

    Do you have a cell phone, a laptop or a tablet?  Or maybe your parents do?

    Many electronic devices contain batteries. And the batteries contain cobalt. Cobalt is found under the earth’s surface so it has to be mined. Amnesty International is very concerned that cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is being mined by children.

    At least half of the world’s cobalt comes from the DRC. Amnesty International researchers travelled there to talk to children and adults who work in the cobalt mines. 

    The researchers learned that children and adult miners dig out rocks from tunnels deep underground using basic tools. They have no equipment to protect them, such as gloves or facemasks, even though breathing cobalt dust for a long time can cause lung disease. 

    March 16, 2016

    "The arrest of 18 peaceful youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo is yet another shameful attempt by the authorities to restrict citizens’ ability to peacefully express themselves in the lead up to elections scheduled for later this year,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “They must be immediately and unconditionally released for they committed no crime when they peacefully protested the continued unlawful detention of their colleagues, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, on trumped up charges.”

    “Bauma and Makwambala, who on 15 March completed a year in jail, must also be released, as well as all other activists arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly. Their arrests violate international law and DRC’s own constitution.”

     

    January 18, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 19 January 2016

    Major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products, said Amnesty International and Afrewatch in a report published today.

    The report, "This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt", traces the sale of cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries, from mines where children as young as seven and adults work in perilous conditions.

    November 25, 2015

    Posted at 0301hrs GMT  26 November 2015

    Activists and political leaders who speak out against attempts by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila to stand for a third term in office are being subjected to arbitrary arrest and, in some cases, prolonged incommunicado detention, said Amnesty International, a year before presidential elections are officially due to take place.

    A new report, Treated like criminals: DRC's race to silence dissent in the run up to elections, reveals how DRC’s justice system is being used to silence critics of a third term by President Kabila. It focuses on the cases of eight individuals who were jailed after peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, one of whom spent 145 days in incommunicado detention.

    “In the lead up to next year’s elections, the justice system has been compromised for political purposes to crush dissent,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    August 12, 2015

    There are mounting fears that a group of 41 suspects detained since early June are soon to face a military trial, including the risk of the death penalty, following their recent transfer into military custody, Amnesty International warned. 

    On 5 August the detainees were transferred to a military prison, following their arrest in a security clampdown two months ago after gunmen attacked Goma airport and other parts of the city on 2 June. They had been held for more than 60 days withou being brought before a civilian judge at the Agence Nationale des Renseignements (ANR) Detention Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were held incommunicado and forced to sleep on concrete floors.  

    “Arrested in the crackdown after the assault on Goma airport and charged with ‘insurrection’ and other offences, the detainees now run the risk of facing the death penalty in a trial conducted in a military court,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the East, Great Lakes and Horn of Africa. 

    June 16, 2015

    About 50 people arrested by the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a security clampdown after armed gunmen attacked Goma airport and other parts of the city two weeks ago must urgently be granted full access to lawyers, be allowed family visits and presented before court to assess the legality of their detention, Amnesty International urged today.

    “The Congolese Constitution is very clear on the rights of people arrested and detained,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
     
    “Detention without access to family members and lawyers increases the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. They are also at risk of enforced disappearance”.

    Four people including two members of the Presidential Guard in charge of airport security were killed in the attack on 2 June.

    June 15, 2015

      Over 200 Rights Groups Urge Respect for Free Expression, Assembly

    (Kinshasa) – Congolese authorities should immediately and unconditionally release two activists who were arrested three months ago, on March 15, 2015, during a pro-democracy youth workshop in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 14 international and 220 Congolese rights organizations said today. Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala were arrested at a workshop organized to launch “Filimbi,” a platform to encourage Congolese youth to peacefully and responsibly perform their civic duties.

    The government should also release and drop any charges against other activists, opposition party members, and others detained solely for their political views or for participating in peaceful activities.

    March 30, 2015

    Released Monday 30 March 2015 00.01am GMT (01.01am BST)

    Amnesty International today launched a new campaign for the release of Congolese youth human rights activists held incommunicado in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for 15 days. The activists were arrested on 15 March when security forces stormed a press conference on youth civic engagement in political processes in the run up to the country’s elections.

    “Through this campaign, Amnesty International members and the public will stand in solidarity with activists experiencing the brunt of Congo’s continued crackdown before next year’s presidential election,” said Christian Rumu, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for the Great Lakes Region.

    “We hope this public outcry will persuade the Congolese authorities to comply with their obligations to release the activists held incommunicado in Kinshasa, and send a clear message that infringement of fundamental rights to liberty and freedom from torture and ill-treatment are not acceptable.”

    March 18, 2015

    The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must immediately and unconditionally release human rights activists arrested on 15 March in the capital, Kinshasa, for holding a meeting. Those suspected of criminal responsibility for the arbitrary arrests must be brought to justice in a fair trial.

    Five youth activists are among a group of civil society activists detained since 15 March following their arrest at the Centre Eloko ya Makasi, a cultural centre in Masina, Kinshasa. They were attending a press conference after a workshop on youth civic engagement in political processes.   A DRC journalist who was also held alongside the activists was released yesterday evening.

    “The DRC government must immediately release activists detained for peaceful assembly and free expression,” said Christian Rumu, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for the Great Lakes Region.

    “These arrests show the government’s continued crackdown on peaceful assembly before next year’s presidential election.”

    November 24, 2014

    Released 10am GMT 24 November 2014

    A Belgian mining company, Groupe Forrest International, has consistently lied about the bulldozing of hundreds of homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has denied justice to those affected, said Amnesty International today in a new report. 

    Bulldozed: How a mining company buried the truth about forced evictions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provides satellite imagery and other new evidence, exposing how the company’s subsidiary, Entreprise Général Malta Forrest (EGMF), supplied bulldozers that were used to unlawfully demolish homes and forcibly evict hundreds of people living next to the company’s Luiswishi mine in Kawama, Katanga in 2009. It also details how the companies and the Congolese government have obstructed attempts to achieve justice for the villagers ever since.

    “There is now overwhelming and irrefutable evidence showing that the forced evictions that Groupe Forrest International has denied for years in fact took place,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s’s Global Issues Director.

    October 31, 2014

    UN peacekeepers and the Congolese authorities must act urgently to protect civilians from a spate of sporadic attacks by armed rebels which has left at least 100 dead in the last month said Amnesty International today.

    In the most recent attack, on the night of 30 October 2014, it is reported that 18 civilians were killed and seven seriously wounded by the armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in Kampi ya Chuyi approximately 75 kilometres from Beni town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    “The ADF and other armed groups must renounce their unlawful campaign of violence against civilians. The Congolese authorities and UN peacekeepers must ensure civilians in peril are protected,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.

    “These acts of unlawful killings and abductions of civilians must not go unpunished. The Congolese authorities should ensure that prompt impartial and independent investigation is conducted to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

    July 05, 2014

    The Congolese authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) must do everything in their power to ensure that three men due to be returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this weekend do not face the death penalty, torture or other serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International believes the three former ICC witnesses face a real risk of persecution and reprisals in the DRC because of the testimony they submitted to the ICC accusing President Kabila of involvement in serious crimes.

    “Amnesty International has protested against the return of these detained witnesses and calls on the ICC and the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure that all necessary protective measures are in place when they arrive in Kinshasa,” said Evie Francq, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the DRC.

    “The ICC has a duty to monitor the wellbeing of these men when they return home and to ensure the local authorities live up to their promises to protect the men from human rights violations. The Congolese justice system must cooperate,” said Evie Francq.

    March 07, 2014

    The International Criminal Court has convicted Germain Katanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for his part in a vicious attack on a village in eastern Congo where civilians were massacred.

    “The verdict will provide victims with a measure of some justice and we hope that this will spur the DRC to tackle other cases that have so far escaped justice,” said Stephanie Barbour, Head of Office, Amnesty International’s Centre for International Justice.

    Katanga was convicted of murder as a crime against humanity, murder as a war crime, deliberately directing an attack on a civilian population, destruction of property as a war crime and pillage as a war crime.

    However, he was also acquitted of five counts of rape and sexual slavery as a crime against humanity and a war crime and the use of children under the age of 15 taking direct part in hostilities as a war crime.

     

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