Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Congo-Brazzaville
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 April 2004|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Congo-Brazzaville, 14 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747c6c1.html [accessed 2 August 2015]|
Continued pressure against OCDH30
Through the State media, government authorities still constantly denigrate the statements and activities of both the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (Observatoire congolais des droits de l'Homme – OCDH) and FIDH. Mr. Alain Akouala, minister of Communication and government spokesman, held a press conference on 12th November 2003, the day after the president of FIDH declared on the Voice of America radio station that peace in Congo was "shaky". Mr. Akouala said this was a grave statement, unrelated to the work of human rights defenders and that such words were clearly subversive and destabilising. On that same day, the authorities demanded OCDH to hand in its drawn up list of missing persons in the "Brazzaville Beach" case,31 and publicly announced that the "so-called missing" were living in Brazzaville and Kinshasa. These sorts of statements are regularly transmitted by NGOs close to the government, such as the ever-active Congolese Federation of Human Rights32 (Fédération congolaise des droits de l'Homme – FECODHO), which was created in August 2002.
Government still exerts a tight control over the media. For instance, Mr. Akouala told representatives of FIDH and OCDH on 4th November 2003 that "a little censorship is better than a district aflame". He further said that "behind each journalist slumbers a politician" and went on holding journalists for partly responsible for current and past Congolese problems. Since Mr. Akouala is the minister responsible for the adoption of enforcement orders, his statement that "certain newspapers may well disappear" goes along the same lines.
By establishing the National human rights commission (Commission nationale des droits de l'Homme) in summer 2003, the national authorities clearly tried to control representatives of civil society. Just like the legislative bodies, the government is trying to control the new transition institutions in order to block their actions. The procedure to select the members of the National human rights commission, for instance, was not respected. The Association for Human Rights and Prison Environments (Association pour les droits de l'Homme et l'univers carcéral – ADHUC) appealed to the Supreme Court to denounce these appointments but did not receive any response. Mr. Christian Mounzeo, who refused to join this Commission as representative of his organisation, OCDH, was then called a "representative of the opposition in exile" and had to put up with a huge smear campaign.
[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.]
30. See Annual Report 2002.
31. Between 5th and 14th May 1999, close to 350 persons who had taken refuge in the Pool region during the 1998 civil war disappeared while returning to Brazzaville via DRC.
32. See Annual Report 2002.