Democratic Republic of Congo
By Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher
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(Kinshasa, September 26, 2017) – Democratic Republic of Congo authorities should immediately and unconditionally release nine Congolese human rights and pro-democracy activists wrongfully detained for their participation in peaceful activities, 45 Congolese and international human rights organizations said today. Four activists were arrested on July 14 and 15, 2017 in Mbuji-Mayi and five others on July 31 in Lubumbashi.
“The Congolese authorities have thrown activists in jail for joining peaceful protests calling for elections and for Congo’s constitution to be respected,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should release them immediately and ensure that all Congolese have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their political views.”
In response to the commitment made this week by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to eliminate child labour in the mining sector by 2025, Seema Joshi, head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:
“This commitment could mark a significant step on the road towards eradicating the scourge of children as young seven working in the mines of the DRC. If delivered, it means future generations of Congolese children won’t spend their childhoods mining materials for our smartphones and electric cars, in dark, dirty and dangerous conditions.
“The government’s strategy responds directly to findings uncovered by Amnesty International and for the first time, they have acknowledged that children are working in artisanal cobalt mines.
“These are encouraging developments, but the key now is implementation. Previous government promises on tackling child labour have come to nothing. We’ll be watching very closely to ensure this latest commitment isn’t another false dawn for children in the DRC.”
(Geneva, June 1, 2017) – The United Nations Human Rights Council should urgently establish a commission of inquiry into the situation in the central Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 262 Congolese and 9 international nongovernmental organizations said today
In response to the killing of two UN experts in Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:
“These deaths should not be in vain, but serve as a reminder of the urgent need to end the violence in Kasai Province that has so far claimed more than 400 lives, and which the two UN officials lost their lives trying to shed a light on.
“The DRC government must also investigate the killings itself, while facilitating the UN’s own investigation, and ensure that those responsible are held to account. It must also continue to search for the interpreter and three motorcycle taxi drivers who were kidnapped with them, and remain unaccounted for.”
The remains of the two UN experts – Michael Sharp, a US national, and Zaida Catalan of Sweden – were found on 27 March, two weeks after they were kidnapped.
Responding to today’s International Criminal Court (ICC) order awarding reparations to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Germain Katanga case, Solomon Sacco, Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Adviser said:
“Today's decision by the ICC is an important step towards addressing the horrific suffering of the victims of the atrocities committed by Germain Katanga including murder, destruction of property and pillaging.”
“Providing full and effective reparation will help the victims of these war crimes and crimes against humanity to rebuild their lives. But we must not forgot that there are hundreds of thousands of other victims of similar crimes in the DRC, and whom the ICC will not be able to assist.”
“Today’s decision should be a catalyst to end this impunity and demand that the DRC government ensures justice, truth and reparation for all victims across the country.”
Amnesty International sent this case as an Urgent Action on December 19 2016.
Musasa Tshibanda, an activist from the youth movement Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was released on 8 February. He was not charged. He had been in incommunicado detention since 16 December 2016 when he was arrested together with another activist, Gloria Senga.
Rising tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being stoked by crackdowns on freedom of expression and peaceful protests, posing a deadly risk of further violence, Amnesty International said today, one month ahead of the day President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally-mandated second term will end.
Since anti-Kabila protests began in 2014, government security forces have killed dozens of protesters and imprisoned many others on trumped-up charges or following unfair trials. They have also introduced draconian restrictions on media houses.
“This powder-keg of human rights grievances is likely to blow up in more violence unless concrete measures are taken to ease tensions and allow dissenters to freely express their frustrations over the delayed elections,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Released 00:00 GMT on 30 September 2016
The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must show restraint in their handling of protests to ensure that they do not inflame tensions in the country, and conduct thorough, prompt, impartial and transparent investigations into killings and violence that took place at opposition rallies in Kinshasa yesterday, Amnesty International said today.
The government has said 17 people, including three police officers, were killed at rallies held to demand that the electoral commission announce the date of the next presidential election, while the opposition parties put the death toll at more than 50 protesters. Credible civil society reports mention 25 deaths, including the three police officers.
“Yesterday’s unlawful killings are just the latest example of the worrying crackdown on the opposition since it became apparent that presidential elections might not be held on time. The authorities must ensure that those suspected of being responsible are brought to justice,” said Christian Rumu, Amnesty International’s Country Campaigner for the DRC.
The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have overseen a systematic crackdown on opponents of President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to stay in power beyond the constitutionally mandated second term, Amnesty International said today.
In a new report, ‘Dismantling dissent: DRC’s repression of expression amidst electoral delays’ Amnesty International says the DRC government is using state institutions to prevent people who oppose a prolongation of President Kabila’s term in office to organize and express themselves.
“The government is violating the rights of opposition politicians and pro-democracy activists to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly while expelling foreign researchers and threatening human rights organizations that are working to monitor these violations with closure,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
A massive thank you to the 170,000 of you who stood up for Fred and Yves and demanded their release. Your solidarity and activism kept hope alive for the many youth activists at LUCHA (Lutte pour le changement or “fight for change”) – the organization that Fred and Yves belong to. LUCHA, which shared Amnesty’s Ambassador of Conscience Award this year, was instrumental in securing the men’s release, having met President Joseph Kabila just days before the two men walked free.
“I am happy to finally be free after more than 17 months of imprisonment,” said Fred. “I thank Amnesty International and all those who fought in one way or another for my release. I look forward to seeing my family and friends to continue the fight for democracy and freedom in my country.”
The release of four Congolese pro-democracy activists, including Amnesty International Prisoners of Conscience Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, is cause for celebration but they remain at risk of re-arrest unless the charges are dropped, warned Amnesty International today.
“The release of Fred, Yves and others is a rare positive step in what has been a very difficult year for freedom of expression in the DRC. The charges against them were politically motivated and must be dropped to ensure that their ordeal is over once and for all,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes.
Until their release, Fred and Yves were awaiting a trial that could have seen them face the death penalty. The pair were arrested along with 26 other activists in March 2015 and charged with various offences including “plotting a conspiracy against the head of state”.
The two were released along with Christopher Ngoyi. Jean Marie Kalonji was also released and walked out of jail on 27 August. They were all being held at Kinshasa’s Makala Prison.
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.