Amnesty International Report 2006 - Congo
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Congo, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7a32f.html [accessed 30 May 2016]|
More than 20 people were arrested in January and February in connection with an alleged plot against the government; more were arrested later in the year. Several of them were granted provisional release, but most remained in custody without trial at the end of the year. A trial of 15 serving members of the security forces and a civilian charged with genocide and crimes against humanity ended in August. All 16 were acquitted, but the court held the government responsible for the "disappearance" of at least 80 returning refugees in 1999.
The 2003 peace agreement between the government and the armed opposition National Resistance Council (Conseil national de résistance, CNR) was not implemented and armed clashes were reported. In March the government announced a programme of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of some 450 former CNR fighters but the armed group did not participate.
There were reports during the year of looting and lawlessness by CNR combatants. In one incident in April they attacked a UN humanitarian delegation visiting the Pool region and stole the delegates' property. On 13 October, three gendarmes, two policemen and a Chinese trader were killed during clashes between members of the security forces and CNR combatants in Brazzaville. The combatants were occupying a house allocated by the government to CNR leader Frédéric Bitsangou as part of the 2003 peace accord. On 19 October government forces attacked the combatants and drove them out of Brazzaville.
In July the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (Observatoire congolais des droits de l'homme, OCDH), a local independent human rights group, pulled out of the government-sponsored National Human Rights Commission. The OCDH accused the Commission of failing to act on human rights abuses and of lack of independence.
Former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas, who had been sentenced to death in absentia in May 2000, returned home in October to bury his wife. Parliament granted him an amnesty in November.
Congo remained suspended from the Kimberley process, which traces the origin of diamonds, although officials said that they were doing all they could to rejoin the process.
In July the trial of 15 members of the security forces and a civilian began before the Brazzaville criminal court. The men were charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged role in the "disappearance" in mid-1999 of more than 350 refugees returning from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Members of the security services were not suspended from their positions before or during the trial. When the trial concluded in August, the court found the state responsible for the "disappearance" of at least 80 people but acquitted all the defendants on the grounds that they bore no responsibility for the "disappearances". The court failed to specify who had carried out the "disappearances" but ordered the state to pay unspecified compensation to the families of the victims. Local and international human rights organizations expressed concern that the criminal court had only pursued the case to prevent the trial of the alleged perpetrators by an independent foreign court.
Detention without trial
In January, at least eight gendarmes and four civilians accused of involvement in the theft of arms from Bifouiti gendarmerie were arrested in Brazzaville and detained at the headquarters of the Central Directorate of Military Intelligence (Direction centrale des renseignements militaires, DCRM).
In February, more than 20 members of the security forces and civilians accused of plotting against the government were arrested in Pointe-Noire and detained by the security services. They were transferred to Brazzaville in March. Most of them were detained at the DCRM headquarters; others were held at the military academy, north of Brazzaville.
While in military custody without charge or trial, the detainees were held incommunicado and denied the right to see their defence counsel or their relatives. AI delegates visiting Brazzaville in April were also denied permission to meet the detainees. In May the detainees were transferred to Brazzaville's central prison and were allowed visits thereafter.
In September they were charged with endangering the security of the state. They had not been tried by the end of the year. At least four of the detainees, including Magoud Beconith Cotody and Jean Romain Tsiba, were granted provisional release in September.
AI country visits
AI delegates visited the Republic of the Congo in April.