Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Congo-Brazzaville
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 March 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Congo-Brazzaville, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cd0c.html [accessed 23 September 2014]|
Judicial harassment of Messrs. Christian Mounzéo and Brice Makosso27
On April 5, 2006, Mr. Christian Mounzéo, head of the NGO Engagement for Peace and Human Rights (Rencontre pour la paix et les droits de l'Homme – RPDH), and Mr. Brice Makosso, permanent secretary of the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission (Commission épiscopale justice et paix) in Pointe-Noire, both coordinators of the "Publish What You Pay" campaign in the country (Publiez ce que vous payez – PCQVP), were summoned to the Pointe-Noire central police station on the order of the Public Prosecutor of the Pointe-Noire Court of First Instance, on the basis of a complaint for "forgery" and "misuse of funds" filed by Mr. William Bouaka, former RPDH secretary general, on February 17, 2006.
Messrs. Mounzéo and Makosso reported to the central police station on April 6, 2006 and were then taken to the police special department, where they were questioned about their activities, in particular their involvement in the "Publish What You Pay" campaign calling for the mandatory disclosure of the books of accounts of oil, gas and mining companies. Both activists were remanded in custody for several hours and released without charge in the evening.
On the same day, criminal investigation police searched their homes without warrants and seized a number of documents related to their human rights activities. The headquarters of the Justice and Peace Commission were also reportedly searched without a warrant.
On April 7, 2006, while reporting to the police station to sign the minutes of their questioning, Messrs. Mounzéo and Makosso were indicted by the Public Prosecutor for "forgery" and "breach of trust", and subsequently held in custody in the Pointe-Noire central prison.
They were both released on bail on April 28, 2006.
The hearing was repeatedly postponed until the Court laid additional charges of "breach of trust" and "complicity in breach of trust" on October 9, 2006. These charges had been introduced by the Prosecutor in July and were first examined by the Court on October 29, 2006. The hearing was further adjourned until November 28, then December 27, 2006.
Mr. Mounzéo was further arrested without a warrant on November 13, 2006 at Maya-Maya international airport, upon his return from a professional journey to Europe. He was detained until November 14, 2006 and officially banned from leaving the country. Mr. Mounzéo's arrest and travel ban were ordered by the Pointe-Noire Public Prosecutor who had been removed from office on July 10, 2006.
On December 27, 2006, the Pointe-Noire Court found Messrs. Mounzéo and Makosso guilty of "forgery and use of forgeries" and "breach of trust" and condemned them to a one-year suspended prison sentence and a 300,000 CFA francs fine each (about 457 euros).
Messrs. Mounzéo and Makosso immediately appealed this decision.
Smear campaign against OCDH28
On October 25, 2006, the Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (Observatoire congolais des droits de l'Homme – OCDH) released a report denouncing the arbitrary detention of several military officers and civilians who had been held in custody without a warrant or trial for several months. A copy of this report was conveyed to the Congolese authorities, in particular the Minister in charge of the relations with Parliament, the Minister for Justice and Human Rights, the Minister of Home Affairs and National Security, and the Parliament29.
Referring to the OCDH report, Mr. Alphonse Dinard Mobangat-Mokondzi, Prosecutor of the Brazzaville Court of First Instance, publicly declared that "the accusations brought by OCDH [were] sheer dishonesty".
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
27. See Urgent Appeals COG 001/0406/OBS 050, 050.1 and 050.2.
28. See Annual Report 2005.
29. See FIDH and OCDH Joint Press Release, October 19, 2006.