Amnesty International Report 2008 - Republic of Congo
|Publication Date||28 May 2008|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2008 - Republic of Congo, 28 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/483e2783c.html [accessed 3 September 2015]|
REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Head of State: Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Head of government: Isidore Mvouba
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 4.2 million
Life expectancy: 54 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 113/90 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 84.7 per cent
At least five men arrested in early 2005 continued to be detained without trial. Three asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) detained in early 2004 remained in military custody without charge or trial. State agents discriminated against members of the minority Pigmy ethnic group. One detainee was shot dead during a mass prison escape in January. Seventeen death sentences were commuted.
The National Resistance Council (Conseil national de résistance, CNR) and the government signed an agreement in April to end hostilities. As part of the agreement, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso appointed CNR leader Frédéric Bitsamou (known as Pasteur Ntoumi) to the post of delegate general in charge of promoting the values of peace and repairing the ravages of war.
In preparation for the June legislative elections, the CNR transformed itself into a political party known as the National Council of Republicans (Conseil national des républicains). When Frédéric Bitsamou and his supporters tried to enter the capital, Brazzaville, in September, government forces opened fire and forced the CNR back into the Pool region.
The ruling Congolese Workers' Party (Parti congolais du travail, PCT) and its allies won an overwhelming victory in the June elections. Civil society organizations and opposition political parties claimed that the elections were largely chaotic and favoured the PCT. When the new National Assembly sat in September, former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas became its President, as part of the deal in April to ally his party to the PCT.
In October the Republic of Congo was readmitted to the Kimberley Process from which it had been suspended in 2004 for failing to prevent the trafficking of conflict diamonds.
Former army colonel Serge André Mpassi and at least four other former members of the armed forces arrested in early 2005 remained in custody without trial. There was no explanation from the government or the judiciary for their continued detention.
Detention of asylum-seekers
Three former members of the security forces from the DRC continued to be held without charge or trial at the Brazzaville headquarters of the military intelligence service. Germain Ndabamenya Etikilome, Médard Mabwaka Egbonde and Bosch Ndala Umba appeared to be held at the request of the DRC government. The two governments did not respond to public appeals by several local and DRC human rights groups for the release of the three men when DRC President Joseph Kabila visited Brazzaville in September.
Human rights defenders
A senior judicial official claimed in January that human rights defenders Brice Mackosso and Christian Mounzéo were the subject of legal restrictions on their movements following their conviction in December 2006 on charges including breach of trust and forgery. The two men, co-ordinators of civil society groups known as Publish What You Pay, had investigated and publicized allegations of embezzlement of oil revenues by government officials. There was no progress in their appeal against their conviction and sentence, although the restrictions were not enforced. Brice Mackosso and Christian Mounzéo were appointed in September by the government as members of a national body monitoring accountability for revenues from oil and other natural resources in Congo.
Discrimination against members of the minority Pigmy ethnic group continued to be reported.
- In July state officials housed Pigmy participants in the Panafrican Music Festival in a tent located in a Brazzaville zoo while other participants were given hotel accommodation. The Pigmy participants were subsequently transferred to a school following protests by local human rights defenders.
One detainee was shot dead by a guard in January when more than 100 prisoners staged a mass escape from Brazzaville central prison. Local human rights organizations stated that overcrowding and government failure to feed prisoners were reasons behind the escape.
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso commuted 17 death sentences to life imprisonment with hard labour in August. It was not clear how many of the sentences had been imposed during 2007.