Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Congo-Brazzaville
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||22 March 2006|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Congo-Brazzaville, 22 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747caa1a6.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
Intimidation and defamation campaign against persons involved in the "Disappeared of the Brazzaville Beach" case15
At the "Disappeared of the Brazzaville Beach" trial before the Brazzaville Criminal Court,16 where fifteen persons were accused of "genocide", "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity", the victims' families, the witnesses and their families were subjected to pressure and intimidation, especially by the bodyguards of the defendants and by certain persons in the audience, in particular young, armed men in plain clothes.
One of the witnesses, who escaped from the Beach scene but wished to remain anonymous, was threatened by armed persons who came to his parents' home to kidnap him. He has been in hiding ever since.
Furthermore, on 26 July 2005, at a press conference, Mr. Gabriel Entcha Ebia, Minister of Justice, declared that Mr. Ambroise Hervé Malonga, a lawyer representing the civil parties, was an "enemy of the nation". Mr. Malonga had, inter alia, walked out of the courtroom on 25 July 2005 and, on TV, called the trial a "parody".
In addition, Mr. Roger Bouka Owoko, executive director of the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights (Observatoire congolais des droits de l'Homme – OCDH), was threatened in the courtroom on 28 July 2005 by an armed security officer who said: "We know you, do whatever you want, no one will be sentenced. If they are, we'll see to it that you get blown away". Mr. Bouka had already received an anonymous call in June 2005 threatening OCDH with reprisals if the organisation continued to help the families of the disappeared.
In 2005, OCDH was targeted by slander and intimidation campaigns in pro-governmental media, especially by the weeklies Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, Le Choc and Le Coq. Moreover, special organisations were created to bring disrepute upon OCDH and the families of the disappeared, e.g. the Pan-African Thomas Sankara Association (Association panafricaine Thomas Sankara – APTS), whose president is the head of the Congolese Human Rights Federation (Fédération congolaise des droits de l'Homme – FECODO), a government ally that regularly contacts the media to denounce OCDH work in the Beach case and presents OCDH as an enemy of the nation that "sells the country to foreign powers". Similarly, the
of the Interior, Public Security and Territorial Administration, Mr. Norbert Dabira, Inspector General of the Armed Forces who resides in France, and Gen. Blaise Adoua, Commander of the Republican Guard, known as the Presidential Guard. By the end of 2005, the case was still under examination. As progress was being made in the investigation in France in terms of finding out where responsibility lies in this case, the Congolese authorities had the case brought to trial in Brazzaville (21 July 2005). On 17 August 2005, the Brazzaville Criminal Court decided to acquit the fifteen defendants, without denying that it had not been possible to establish the truth about the circumstances in which more than 85 persons disappeared during the 1999 event. The existence of "crimes" was implicitly recognised since the Cour d'assises (Criminal Court) ruled that the State had "civil" responsibility for the exactions and was to pay 10 million CFA francs (approx. 15,000 euros) to each victim's family.
National Association for the Defence of Migrants and Women (Association nationale pour la défense des migrants – et des femmes – ANADEM-F), is a government ally that strives to show that the Beach massacres never occurred and to discredit the families of the disappeared. Finally, in July 2004, Mr. William Mbossa, a journalist at Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, had created the Association for the Defence of the Interests of the So-called Disappeared of the Beach (Association pour la défense des intérêts des prétendus disparus du Beach) to confuse public opinion on the reality of the Beach disappearances.
[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.]
15. See Annual Report 2004 and Report of the FIDH-OCDH judicial observation mission, Procès des "Disparus du Beach de Brazzaville", December 2005.
16. In May 1999, several hundred Congolese used a human corridor, placed under the auspices of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to return to their country after having taken refuge in DRC during the 1998-1999 civil war. They were kidnapped at the Brazzaville Beach river port by members of the presidential guard and executed within the presidential palace of Sassou Nguesso.
On 5 December 2001, FIDH, the French League of Human Rights (Ligue française des droits de l'Homme – LDH) and OCDH launched legal proceedings before the Court of Meaux (France) against Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, Gen. Pierre Oba, Minister