Released 00:00 GMT on 30 September 2016
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.
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:
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.
"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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”