Amnesty International Report 2007 - Congo (Republic of)
|Publication Date||23 May 2007|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2007 - Congo (Republic of), 23 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46558ec416.html [accessed 3 May 2015]|
REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Head of state: Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Head of government: Isidore Mvouba
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
International Criminal Court: ratified
At least 12 men arrested in early 2005 continued to be detained without trial. Two human rights defenders were arrested and their trial on charges of abuse of trust concluded in December. Three asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were still detained without charge or trial after nearly three years. There were allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
The National Resistance Council (Conseil national de résistance, CNR) retained its arms and bases in the Pool region in the south, despite a 2003 peace agreement, and reports continued of looting and lawlessness by its combatants.
In January, President Sassou-Nguesso became chair of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
Former army Colonel Serge André Mpassi and at least 11 other members or former members of the security forces, arrested in early 2005, remained in detention without trial. A further 13 political detainees arrested at the same time had been released provisionally by the start of 2006. Some of the 25 were charged in 2005 with involvement in the theft of military weapons, and all were charged with plotting to overthrow the government. In March the prosecutor of the Brazzaville High Court reportedly told the remaining detainees that an examining magistrate had concluded they had no case to answer. However, by the end of 2006, the authorities had not withdrawn the charges or released the remaining detainees.
By the end of 2006, there had still been no investigation into allegations that Army Sergeant Francis Ngolo Ngapene was tortured at a military airbase in Pointe-Noire shortly after his arrest in February 2005, sustaining injuries that included a broken arm. He remained in Brazzaville's Central Prison.
Detention and prosecution of human rights defenders
Human rights defenders Brice Mackosso and Christian Mounzéo were detained on 7 April. The two men, co-ordinators of an anti-corruption coalition of civil society groups known as Publish What You Pay, appeared to have been detained because of their human rights work, which included investigating and denouncing embezzlement of oil revenues by government officials. They were held at the central prison in Pointe-Noire. After the arrests, police searched their offices and homes without a warrant, seizing documents and other property. The two men were provisionally released on 28 April to await trial on charges of breach of trust, complicity in breach of trust and forgery. A pre-trial judge decided that the breach of trust charges should be dropped, because there was no evidence of misappropriation of funds, but the trial judge ruled that the case should continue on the basis of the original charges. The defence challenged this decision but the prosecution succeeded in reintroducing the charges. After numerous delays, the trial concluded in December with the original charges intact. On 27 December the High Court in Pointe-Noire convicted them and gave them a suspended one-year prison sentence and a fine. They appealed against conviction and sentence. Christian Mounzéo was briefly detained in November on his return from a trip to Europe where, according to the Congolese authorities, he defamed President Sassou-Nguesso.
Torture and ill-treatment
Political detainees and criminal suspects were allegedly tortured and ill-treated.
Four men arrested in May on suspicion of involvement in trafficking arms were allegedly beaten repeatedly by members of the police unit responsible for their detention. One of them, Aymar Mouity, was reportedly suspended by his feet from the ceiling. The four were held in the Moukondo detention centre in Brazzaville, in a cramped and dark cell, which reportedly left them with damaged eyesight. The men were still held without charge or trial at the end of 2006.
Detention and deportation of asylum-seekers
Three former members of the DRC security forces seeking asylum in the Republic of Congo continued to be held without charge or trial at the headquarters of the military intelligence service. Germain Ndabamenya Etikilome, Médard Mabwaka Egbonde and Bosch Ndala Umba had been arrested in March 2004 on the basis of a security agreement between the DRC and the Republic of Congo to crack down on each others' opponents. However, the Republic of Congo authorities reportedly believed the men were DRC spies.
In October, two people who had escaped from prison in the DRC and another asylum-seeker were arrested in Brazzaville and deported to the DRC. One of the two escaped prisoners, Césaire Muzima Mwenyezi, had been serving a life sentence with 18 other former asylum-seekers deported from Brazzaville to the DRC in 2001. They had been convicted of involvement in the January 2001 assassination of then President Laurent Désiré Kabila.
There was no progress in bringing to justice those responsible for the enforced disappearance in mid-1999 of more than 350 refugees who were returning from the DRC.
AI country reports/visits
- Republic of Congo: Political detainees in legal limbo (AI Index: AFR 22/003/2006)