Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Democratic Republic of Congo

Repression of human rights defenders – Kinshasa

Serious threats against Mr. Paul Nsapu and continued harassment of LE members20

On 14 and 17 January 2005, Mr. Paul Nsapu, president of the League of Electors (Ligue des électeurs – LE), received anonymous, threatening phone calls after private television channels broadcast several of his statements criticising the management of the electoral process by the authorities, as well as the government's intention to extend the transition period.

On 16 June 2005, Mr. Bahati Lukwebo, a member of the Parliament and representative of the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie – PPRD, ruling party), accused Mr. Nsapu, in an interview on the Horizon 33 TV channel, of "working in the pay of the opposition". Similar threats were reiterated on 24 June 2005 subsequent to Mr. Nsapu screen appearance in the "Grand Lisolo" TV show on Horizon 33.

In early July 2005, Mr. Nsapu received another phone call threatening him with death if he did not suspend his activities for the promotion of democracy and in favour of a transparent electoral process.

At about the same time, Mr. Kanga Bongo, a PPRD member, publicly declared that if Mr. Nsapu had participated in the demonstration organised on 30 June 2005 against the extension of the transition period – during which several demonstrators were killed – "he would have been killed without mercy".

These acts of retaliation were linked with Mr. Nsapu's involvement in civil society organisations advocating for international crimes to be punished and fundamental freedoms to be respected, as well as his persistent refusal to play an active role in the transitional governmental institutions such as the Independent Electoral Commission (Commission électorale indépendante – CEI). Mr. Nsapu publicly expressed his stands in favour of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the framework of his various prominent positions: he is the spokesperson for the consultation platform between civil society and the CEI since 2004, a senior coordinator of the National Network for Election Observation (Réseau national d'observation des élections – RENOSEC) since May 2005 and leader of the Observation Network for Demonstrations and Public Liberties (Réseau d'observation des manifestations et des libertés publiques) since June 2005. He particularly criticised the CEI functioning in a RENOSEC report published in March 2005 and in several LE analyses relating to the electoral process.

Due to these threats and the general context of insecurity for human rights defenders in the DRC, Mr. Nsapu had to leave the country in July 2005. Since then, his family and colleagues have been subjected to constant acts of intimidation.

On 18 July 2005 for instance, Messrs. Sabin Banza, LE vice-president, and Guillaume Kabeya, LE training coordinator, received threatening phone calls from anonymous individuals who declared they were particularly targeting Mr. Nsapu.

On that same day, an anonymous phone call informed Mrs. Bénédicte Kapinga Tshiswaka, spouse of Mr. Nsapu, that she was followed, insinuating that "they were aware of all of her movements". Two armed men also visited her at her home and threatened her, stating they were acting on the order of the authorities.

On 29 August 2005, LE received several anonymous phone calls by persons introducing themselves as security services agents, who insulted and threatened Mr. Nsapu and his family with death. Security services also warned Mr. Sabin Banza against any further contact he might have with Mr. Nsapu.

Mrs. Nsapu received another anonymous threatening phone call on 15 September 2005, the author of which declared that her husband's "dirty job had to stop". Three agents of the National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements – ANR) came to her house later that day to question her. On 16 September 2005, the three officers came back to interrogate one of her children.

On 1 December 2005, an unidentified individual called Mrs. Nsapu again and questioned her about her relationship with Mrs. Mimi Tshiswaka, a former colleague of Mr. Polycarpe Mpoyi, RENOSEC coordinator in the Eastern Kasai region who was murdered on 9 November 2005.21 After Mrs. Nsapu answered that Mrs. Tshiswaka was her sister, the person calling declared as follow: "I was just checking, we already know anyway that it's through you that Mrs. Mimi conveys information to Mr. Paul [Nsapu]. We'll pay you a visit in a couple of days".

Moreover, security services operating at the country's borders were reportedly ordered to arrest Mr. Nsapu, shall he attempt to come back to the DRC.

At the same time, the authorities continued to constantly discredit LE and its activities in 2005, in particular with the diplomatic missions in Kinshasa. LE was notably accused on several occasions to be responsible for the difficulties encountered by CEI in organising and preparing elections in the hinterland. Following this campaign, several institutions refused to grant any financial support to the association, as was the case of the fund administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), allotted to civil society in the framework of the Support Programme to the Electoral Process in the DRC (Appui au processus électoral au Congo – APEC). Although LE submitted a request for funding on 26 October 2005, it did not receive any subsidy for developing its civic education programme, as its file was mysteriously "lost" by APEC.

Lastly, Mr. Kabamba Kabamba, LE member, and his wife, Mrs. Justine Bilonda, both arbitrarily detained in June 2004, after Mr. Kabamba had published an article denouncing the suspicious circumstances of the failed coup against the ruling power in the DRC in the local press, were still hiding at the end of 2005.

Obstacles to freedom of demonstration22

– Mrs. Yvonne Ambutshi Dende, LE member, was arrested on 10 January 2005 while participating in a demonstration protesting against the possible postponement of the elections, which was fiercely repressed by members of the armed forces.

– A demonstration protesting against Mr. Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi's assassination23 and the flight of two senior officers of the army suspected in his murder was organised on 5 August 2005.

Demonstrators were forced to turn back as police forces, armed with tear-gas grenades, fired gunshots in the air to disperse the march. Participants were notably planning to deliver a memorandum denouncing Mr. Kabungulu's killing and increasing retaliation against human rights defenders to the Head of State, the vice-President of the Republic in charge of the political, defence and security commission, as well as to the chief of the United Nations Mission in the DRC (Mission des Nations unies en République démocratique du Congo – MONUC).

Several human rights defenders who took part in this demonstration were called in for questioning by the police and taken to the Kasa-Vubu police station in Kinshasa, where they were intimidated and threatened with torture. Among these activists were notably: Mr. Naupess Kibiswa, a trade unionist and executive secretary of the Kinshasa Civil Society; Mr. Floribert Chebeya, president of the Voice of the Voiceless (Voix des sans voix – VSV); Mr. Sabin Banza; Mr. Robert Ilunga Numbi, president of the Nelson Mandela Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Association des Amis de Nelson Mandela pour la défense des droits de l'Homme – ANMDH); Mr. Ambroise Tshibanda, member of the Black Gowns Association of Human Rights Lawyers and Defenders (Association des avocats et défenseurs des droits de l'Homme Toges Noires); Mr. Fidel Badibanga, member of Women and Families at the Crossroads (Carrefour des femmes et des familles – CAFEFA); Mr. Jean-Jacques Benameyi, president of the League for the Defence of Tenants (Ligue pour la défense des locataires – LILOC); Ms. Zouzou Bouzoune, LE member; Ms. Julie Zenga, member of Women as Partners for Peace in Africa (WOPPA); Messrs. Aaron Kalukumbi and Flavien Mbaka, VSV members; Messrs. Steve Omekungu and Henry Lukula, members of the Platform of Youth Solidarity Organisations in Congo-Kinshasa (Collectif des Organisations des jeunes solidaires du Congo-Kinshasa – COJESKI); Ms. Marie-Noëlle Lukusa, member of the Provincial Network of Human Rights Organisations in Congo in South-Kivu (Réseau provincial des organisations des droits de l'Homme du Congo – REPRODHOC / Kinshasa); as well as Ms. Afi Musungayi, a journalist for the Radio Télévision du Dieu Vivant (RTDV). All these persons were released a few hours later.

Ongoing harassment of VSV members24

On 30 June 2005, the premises of the Voice of the Voiceless (VSV) were surrounded by numerous members of the Military Detection of Anti-Patriotic Activities (Détection militaire des actions contre la patrie – DEMIAP) and ANR services. One of these agents came later to the VSV office pretending he was a victim of torture, and fled as soon as he was recognised as a member of the intelligence services.

VSV was further targeted by a defamation campaign launched in November 2005 after the association was referred the case of former officers of the Zaire Armed Forces willing to come back from their exile in Congo-Brazzaville. This campaign was orchestrated by the State Security Committee, which accused VSV of being a political organisation operating in the pay of the opposition and international human rights NGOs.

Continued judicial harassment of Messrs. Robert Ilunga Numbi, Rodolphe Mafuta, Kally Kalala and Lems Kalema25

On 7 June 2004, Mr. Robert Ilunga Numbi, Mr. Rodolphe Mafuta, president of Bana Kulamu, and Messrs. Kally Kalala and Lems Kalema, president and member of Bana Matonge, two associations for the defence of citizens' rights in the city of Kinshasa, had been arrested and accused of "inciting the people to revolt" and of "malicious destruction" (Article 112 of the Criminal Code). These arrests had followed a complaint lodged by Mr. Martin Matabia Hayala, a businessman accused by the two aforementioned associations of erecting a private construction on public land in the Matonge II district of Kinshasa.

Messrs. Numbi Ilunga, Mafuta, Kalala and Kalema had been released on bail on 16 June 2004. By the end of 2005, however, their judicial proceedings were still pending.

Serious threats against JED members26

On 10 December 2005, Mr. Donat M'Baya Tshimanga, president of the association Journalists in Danger (Journalistes en Danger – JED), Mr. Tshivis Tshivuadi, JED secretary general, Mr. Charles Mushizi, in charge of the Central Africa department, and Mrs. Esther Banakayi, director of the DRC department of the association, received a message on their mobile phones threatening them and their families if they did not put an end to their activities. Although the calling line was reportedly opened shortly before, the telecommunications company was unable to identify the authors of these threats.

The day before, JED had published its 8th Annual Report, which notably underlined the increasing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms – in particular the freedom of the press – in the DRC. This report also called on the authorities to establish an independent investigation commission to carry out a thorough investigation into the assassination of Mr. Franck Ngyke, a journalist, and his wife, who were killed in the night of 2 to 3 November 2005 by unidentified armed individuals.

Several JED members, including Messrs. Tshivis Tshivuadi and Donnat M'baya Tshimanga, had already been threatened with death via emails in April 2005, after Mr. Tshivuadi expressed his concern about the upcoming elections on RFI.

Repression of human rights defenders – Eastern Kasai

Assassination of Mr. Polycarpe Mpoyi Ngongo27

On 9 November 2005, Mr. Polycarpe Mpoyi Ngongo, one of the leading coordinators of the RENOSEC section in Eastern Kasai, was knocked over dead by a car of the Rapid Response Police Squad (Police d'intervention rapide – PIR), which suddenly deviated from its course to hit him. While on his way to the office on his moped, Mr. Mpoyi Ngongo received a phone call and pulled over to answer it, as he was crashed into. The calling number was later found to be unknown.

For the last three days before Mr. Mpoyi Ngongo was killed, PIR agents were constantly on guard in front of his house in Mbuji-Mayi. On 7 November 2005, he was also followed by PIR officers and he then told his colleagues that he did not feel safe anymore.

In the presence of the Eastern Kasai provincial Governor, Mr. Kanku Kabengela, who first arrived on the scene, Major Israël Kantu, special services commander, arrested three human rights defenders who came to observe the legality of the police procedure. These three persons were released without charges a few hours later, and subsequently subjected to constant pressures by local authorities until late 2005.

In addition to his involvement in the RENOSEC activities, Mr. Mpoyi Ngongo advocated for the promotion of human rights and civic education with the Centre for Popular Training and Education (Centre d'études et de formation populaire – CEFOP), and was a member of the Christian Inspired Network for Human Rights and Civic Education Organisations (Réseau d'organisations des droits humains et d'éducation civique d'inspiration chrétienne – RODHECIC). He was more particularly investigating into the possible involvement of the authorities in the assassination of Mr. Leonard Mukendi Kabongo, a lawyer at the Mbuji-Mayi Bar, who was killed in the night of 30 to 31 October 2005. The enquiry into Mr. Mukendi Kabongo's death was still under way in late 2005.

Several human rights defenders were further threatened and intimidated after they publicly denounced and condemned the murders of Messrs. Polycarpe Mpoyi Ngongo, Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi28 and Leonard Mukendi Kabongo: Mr. Charles Mfwamba Mukendi, CEFOP director, Mr. Denis Ilounga Kabeya, ANMDH coordinator, Mr. Charles Kabashadi Mwanan, ACAT coordinator, Mr. Jean Pierre Kahutu, president of the Defensive for Human Rights (Défensive des droits de l'Homme – DDH), Sister Albertine Mbuyi Kalolo, president of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Mbuji-Mayi diocese, Father Claite Nshimba, president of the Prisons' Brotherhood (Fraternité de prison), Mr. Hanania Mutombo, president of the Lawyers for Human Rights (Avocats des droits de l'Homme – ADH), Mr. Philippe Kasonga Lutonga Muloji, ASADHO / Mbuji-Mayi president, Ms. Régine Mbuyi Kalonji, coordinator of the International Catholic Child Bureau (Bureau international catholique de l'enfance – BICE), and Mrs. Mimi Tshiswaka, were notably followed by security services on numerous occasions.

Repression of human rights defenders – Katanga

Ongoing harassment of ASADHO / Katanga members

Attack and intimidation of Messrs. Amigo Ngonde and Golden Misabiko29

On 16 May 2005, Mr. Amigo Ngonde, president of the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Association africaine de défense des droits de l'Homme – ASADHO), and Mr. Golden Misabiko, honorary president of the ASADHO section in Katanga, went to the campus of the University of Lubumbashi in order to investigate into rumours that a military commando was about to attack the campus in the night of 16 to 17 May 2005.

On their way back home, Messrs. Ngonde and Misabiko realised that they were being followed by an unidentified vehicle, which soon overtook them and blocked the road. Three armed men – one of whom attended their meeting with the University chief education officer – attempted to force them out of the car until Messrs. Ngonde and Misabiko finally managed to drive away. When their assailants realised that they would not be able to follow them, they started to shoot at the car. Messrs. Ngonde and Misabiko finally took refuge at the office of the United Nations Mission in the DRC (MONUC).

Abduction of Mr. Misabiko, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of several human rights defenders30

On 2 June 2005, Mr. Golden Misabiko was abducted in Lubumbashi by three armed officers of the ANR / Katanga while dropping off his daughter at school. Mr. Misabiko was roughly questioned by ANR officers about his human rights activities and blamed for "destabilising" the regime and prejudicing its leaders. He was then taken to the lockup of the provincial direction, where he spent several hours on a chair before he was brought to another room where he could sleep on a sofa. He was further not allowed to eat for over 24 hours.

On 3 June 2005, several human rights organisations, including the Centre for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Centre des droits de l'Homme et du droit humanitaire – CDH), and the Human Rights Action against Impunity (Action contre l'impunité pour les droits de l'Homme – ACIDH), organised a peaceful gathering to call for Mr. Misabiko's release. While demonstrating in front of the office of the provincial direction, six human rights defenders were beaten by the security forces and ANR officers and then taken to the ANR detention compound. They were: Mr. Timothée Mbuya, ASADHO / Katanga publishing director, Mr. Hubert Tshiswaka, ACIDH executive director, Mr. Peter Kaodi, ACIDH publishing director, Mr. André Murefu, member of the NGO Dag's Friends for Human Rights (Amis de Dag pour les droits de l'Homme), Mr. Emmanuel Impula, ACIDH member, and Mr. Séraphin Kapenda, CDH member. They were forced to sleep on the floor and to fix the sun during two hours non-stop under the threat of being whipped, and were kicked by officers aiming their guns at them. Messrs. Mbuya, Tshiswaka, Kaodi, Murefu, Impula and Kapenda were then locked up in a humid cell, which had previously been sprayed with an unidentified irritating product, and were denied visits by their lawyers and families.

Together with Mr. Misabiko they were released without charges in late evening on 3 June 2005.

Defamation campaign and demonstration against ASADHO31

On 7 July 2005, Mr. Donatien Nyembo Kimuni, press officer of Mr. Urbain Kisula Ngoy, governor of the Katanga province, held a threatening speech targeting ASADHO / Katanga, broadcast by the National Congolese Radio Television, Katanga Station (Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise, Station du Katanga – RTNC / Katanga). Mr. Nyembo Kimuni notably declared that "ASADHO / Katanga [was] (...) involved in politics and [aimed] at weakening regional leaders and dividing the population. This association [should] now be considered as such by everyone and severely treated; (...) this corrupt organisation [worked] against the interests of the Katanga province (...) and solely [aimed] at reducing the population to penury, (...) whereas the support it benefits from the international community destabilises the whole region. It can't go on like this, we have to react!".

These threats followed the publication of an ASADHO / Katanga press release on 1 July 2005, denouncing the authorities failure to punish the members of the Congolese armed forces who had perpetrated lootings, rapes and executions against civilians in Kilwa on 18 October 2004.

Moreover, about 300 persons demonstrated against the ASADHO / Katanga activities on 13 July 2005, with the moral and financial support of Mr. Kisula Ngoy, Mr. Kaseba Makunko, Lubumbashi mayor, and the Anvil Mining company, which was accused by ASADHO / Katanga to be involved in the Kilwa massacre. Demonstrators gathered for about an hour in front of the association's headquarters, and chanted slogans affirming that ASADHO was a "tribal organisation working against the interests of the Katanga province" and that they would "come back to ransack the office if the association continued to harass the Anvil Mining company". The demonstrators' banners also stated that ASADHO was "corrupt", and that its members "should be careful" as this was "the last warning". During the whole time, ASADHO members were prevented from leaving their office. In spite of their phone calls, the security forces refused to intervene.

Harassment of Solidarité Katangaise

Serious threats against Mr. Jean-Claude Muyambo Kyassa32

From late April to early May 2005, Mr. Jean-Claude Muyambo Kyassa, president of Solidarité Katangaise, CDH honorary director and president of the Lubumbashi Bar, was threatened with arrest, abduction and death because of the activities of the association in favour of civic education and "citizens' political awareness". These threats followed Mr. Muyambo Kyassa's statements against the potential postponement of the elections scheduled for 30 June 2005, and for which he had been accused of "inciting the population to rebel". In late April 2005, he was reportedly informed that the security forces were preparing an attack against him.

In addition, ANR officers prevented Mr. Muyambo Kyassa from going to Kinshasa on 5, 12 and 21 May 2005, without any official reason.

Solidarité Katangaise closed down

On 21 May 2005, Mr. Urbain Kisula Ngoy issued a provincial decree banning Solidarité Katangaise from operating in the region and ordered the closure of the association on the ground that "its activity [was] not legally authorised".

Yet, on 18 July 2004, Solidarité Katangaise had submitted a request for legal recognition with the Minister of Justice, which, on 11 August 2004, had provisionally authorised the association to operate until an official order recognising its legal personality was issued. According to Article 5 of Law n° 004/2001, however, legal personality shall automatically be granted if the Ministry does not respond to the request within six months.

Moreover, according to the law, the governor is merely enabled to suspend – and not to ban – the activities of an association, and this only in cases of "breach of the peace" and "indecent behaviour" committed by the association.

Solidarité Katangaise could resume its activities in late 2005, after that, on 14 December 2005 the administrative chamber of the Court of Appeal declared the provincial order illegal, null and void.

Judicial proceedings against GANVE33

In October 2004, the Mining Company of Katanga (Société minière du Katanga – SOMIKA) had lodged a complaint for defamation against the Evangelical Group for Non-Violence (Groupe évangélique pour la non-violence – GANVE), which had previously published, on 4 October 2004, a press release denouncing the risks of pollution at the pumping station of the Congolese National Water Distribution Company (Régie congolaise de distribution d'eau – REGIDESO).34

On 11 January 2005, the Kenya Katuba (Lubumbashi) Peace Court ordered GANVE to pay 339,000 euros in damages and sentenced Mr. Jean-Marie Kabanga, GANVE member, to a 36 euros fine. Both Mr. Kabanga and the association appealed against these decisions, and the proceedings were still pending by the end of 2005.

Besides, in a letter dated 13 December 2004, the Deputy Minister for Mines, Mr. Cirimwami Muderhwa, had ordered the SOMIKA to cease its operations at the Kimilolo site. Yet, by the end of 2005, SOMIKA had not abided by this order and resumed its activities on the Kimilolo site.

Repression of human rights defenders – Orientale Province

Attacks, serious intimidation and harassment of leaders of the Lotus Group

Harassment of Mr. Dismas Kitenge Senga35

In the night of 2 to 3 July 2005, some armed individuals broke into the house of Mr. Dismas Kitenge Senga, president of the Lotus Group (Groupe Lotus), a human rights association based in Kisangani. They stole valuable goods, fired gunshots in the air, and threatened Mr. Kitenge's family to come back if he did not give up his "political activities". Members of the Special Presidential Security Group (Garde spéciale de sécurité présidentielle – GSSP), who were posted a few meters away from the house, did not intervene.

These events followed public statements made by Mr. Kitenge during meetings with local authorities, in which he denounced the human rights violations perpetrated by GSSP members during the violent dispersal of a demonstration on 30 June 2005, when five to ten persons died and many others were wounded.

Mr. Kitenge lodged a complaint against one or several unknown persons with the Kisangani police and the Kisangani Court. By the end of 2005, it still had not been examined.

In the night of 22 to 23 September 2005, Mr. Kitenge's house was burnt down by several unidentified men who first vainly tried to force the front door open before breaking the windows and setting the curtains, furniture and some paper documents on fire. On 16 September 2005, Mr. Kitenge had taken part in a press conference on human rights violations committed by GSSP members in Kisangani. His declaration had been widely broadcast by several public and private local radios stations (including RNTC, Amani and Radio-Télévision Pêcheurs d'Hommes) in the following days.

Harassment of Messrs. Gilbert Kalinde, Adan Baku and Guy Tchanda

Messrs. Gilbert Kalinde, Adan Baku and Guy Tchanda, three members of the Lotus Group's steering committee, were systemically tailed by security service in 2005. Security agents and GSSP members posted at checkpoints in Kisangani outskirts searched their luggage every time Messrs. Kalinde, Baku and Tchanda tried to get in or out of the city, arguing they "[were] selling information on the DRC to western powers".

Acts of torture against Mr. Alois Olemu Ekili and obstacles to the activities of the Lotus Group section in Opala36

On 23 May 2005, Mr. Alois Olemu Ekili, programme officer of the Lotus Group section in Opala, was subjected to torture in Yambetsi, his native village, by Civil Security members commanded by Mr. Simplice Akanis, administrator of the Territory. He was notably whipped during three hours with his arms and legs tied up, and blamed for organising public information sessions on the ongoing political process in the country. Mr. Olemu Ekili decided to resign from his position at the Lotus Group and put an end to his human rights activities.

On 21 November 2005, Mr. Marc Koya Osoko, president of the Lotus Group section in Opala, was further prevented from holding a conference on the draft Constitution. Indeed, Mr. Alan Koy, community leader of Yapando (Opala Territory), argued that regional authorities of the Orientale Province had not yet authorised civil society organisations to develop popularisation programmes on this matter, and thus refused to allow such an event. Mr. Koy also threatened the Opala section to ban their activities if they did not abide by this decision. The Lotus Group then referred the case to the Province governor who reportedly assured that the community leader would soon be instructed to lift this measure. Yet, by the end of 2005, local authorities maintained a tight control over the Lotus Group section in Opala.

In addition, the complaint filed by the Lotus Group with the military justice department (auditorat militaire) of the Kisangani garrison force in November 2004 had still not been examined by the end of 2005. This action had been filed against the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the DRC (Forces armées de la RDC – FARDC) in Yate, 200 km from Kisangani, after Mr. Koya Osoko had been subjected to ill-treatment by FARDC officers in 2004.

Arbitrary arrest of Messrs. Willy Loyombo, Cyrille Adebu and Théophile Gata37

On 22 November 2005, Mr. Willy Loyombo, president of the Non-Governmental Organisation for the Settling, Literacy and Promotion of Pygmies (Organisation non gouvernementale pour la sédentarisation, l'alphabétisation et la promotion des pygmées – ODAPY) and member of the Lotus Group, Mr. Cyrille Adebu, head of the Common Organisation of Ecologists and Nature Lovers (Organisation concertée des écologistes et amis de la nature – OCEAN), and Mr. Théophile Gata, forestry adviser of the National Support Centre for Development and Popular Participation (Centre national d'appui au développement et à la participation populaire – CENADEP, a Kinshasa-based NGO), were arrested in Yate by Colonel Désiré Lobo. At the time of their arrest, Messrs. Loyombo, Adebu and Gata were leading a popularisation mission on the Forestry Code as well as a training programme on autochthonous Pygmy populations' customary and traditional rights concerning the exploitation of the forests – both of these programmes sponsored by the Rainforest Foundation. All three were accused of "spying aimed at organising another rebel movement in the Orientale Province" and subjected to an intensive questioning for several hours. Mr. Loyombo, in particular, was accused of "subversion" for his stances expressed in the media, where he persistently denounced the massive human rights violations perpetrated in the Eastern DRC and criticised the authorities for their little – if non-existent – recognition of Pygmies' customary rights in industrial forest exploitation. Messrs. Loyombo, Adebu and Gata were released without charges after they paid a ten dollars fine.

In addition, on 25 September 2005, Mr. Egide Loyombo Afanatike, father of Mr. Willy Loyombo, was subjected to ill-treatment when local police, commanded by Mr. Akanis (Territory administrator), came to his home, tied him up, and whipped him. Mr. Loyombo Afanatike was further threatened and his house was searched without a warrant.

Intimidation of Mr. Pierre Kibaka Falanga38

Mr. Pierre Kibaka Falanga, executive secretary of the Justice and Liberation Group (Groupe Justice et Libération), was subjected to heavy pressures by the High-Uele district authorities, while he was in Isiro (High Uele district) within the framework of the Group's programme for human rights education in secondary schools of the Orientale Province. On 17 June 2005, the district superintendent ordered the security services to arrest Mr. Falanga for inciting the students to civil disobedience. Mr. Falanga could avoid the arrest after the school teachers' intervened in his favour.

Continued harassment of Justice Plus members39

Mr. Joël Bisubu, training officer at Justice Plus, an NGO based in Bunia (Ituri district), received several threats after a report of Human Rights Watch (HRW), entitled The Curse of Gold, had been released on 2 June 2005. Both Mr. Bisubu and HRW received threatening letters from the Nationalist and Integrationalist Front (Front des nationalistes et intégrationistes – FNI), a rebel group controlling Ituri goldfields. Mr. Bisubu was notably accused of conveying to HRW background information and material for the report.

In addition, unidentified individuals claiming they had lost their job following the release of this report called Justice Plus on several occasions in August 2005, and blamed the association for collaborating with an international human rights organisation.

Following other anonymous calls threatening him with death on 23 and 24 September 2005, Mr. Bisubu was forced to leave Bunia for more than a month.

Furthermore, on 6 December 2005, Messrs. Bisubu, Christian Lukusha, Justice Plus research officer, and Aime Magbo, Justice Plus member, were condemned by the Bunia Court of First Instance to a fine compensating a six-month imprisonment term, and to an additional six-month jail sentence if they did not pay for the trial expenses. Messrs. Bisubu, Lukusha and Magbo had been indicted with "harmful involvement" in December 2004 by the public prosecution, after a Justice Plus report had been released. All three appealed against the ruling with the Kisangani Court of Appeal respectively on 10, 12 and 15 December 2005.

Lastly, since December 2004 Justice Plus members had been banned from visiting the Bunia prison compound, following an order issued by the Prosecutor. Thanks to the MONUC human rights section mediation, the association was finally authorised to resume its visits to the detainees in August 2005.

Repression of human rights defenders – Kivu

Assassination of Mr. Kabungulu Kibembi40

Mr. Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi, executive secretary of the human rights NGO Heirs of Justice (Héritiers de la justice) and vice-president of the Great Lakes Regional League for Human Rights (Ligue des droits de la personne dans la région des grands lacs – LDGL), was murdered in his home, in Bukavu. Three armed men in uniform broke into his house and shot him in front of his family. Mr. Kabungulu died of his wounds a few minutes after he was rushed to the hospital.

He had reportedly been threatened on several occasions shortly before his death.

Four military officers were suspected of being involved in his killing: Messrs. Gaston Sangba, S2 Captain of the 105th brigade, Patrick Liaka Makolo, Captain Gaston's escort commander, Bosco Labama, FARDC Lieutenant in charge of security at the 105th brigade, and Isa-Balimwacoa, 1st Sergeant, were arrested on 4 August 2005 and detained on remand in Bukavu central prison. On that same day, however, three armed military officers threatened the prison guards with their guns and released the four officers.

Soon after their flight, authorities set up a joint investigation commission composed of representatives of the Katanga Governorate, the 10th Military Division, the military justice department, national police and MONUC. Following civil society's mobilisation, the four above-mentioned officers were arrested again on 15 August 2005.

Messrs. Sangba, Makolo, Bosco and Isa-Balimwacoa appeared before the Military Court on 28 November 2005 and were indicted with "conspiracy", "murder and assassination" and "concealment of military ammunitions". By the end of 2005, the four suspects were still detained in Bukavu central prison awaiting trial. In the course of the proceedings, Mr. Wandjo Nakiliza, an intelligence agent, and Mr. Jean-Marie Katula, a student, were also arrested and charged with "perjury" and "irreparable imputations" after they accused Mr. Maurice Bahati Masheka Namwira, administration and finance officer of Heirs of Justice, of being behind Mr. Kabungulu's murder.

Furthermore, on 12 December 2005, Mr. Didace Kaningini, ad interim governor who was removed from office on 10 December 2005, and Mr. Thierry Ilunga, 105th brigade commander in charge of security in Bukavu and its outskirts, were both arrested and placed in detention in Bukavu central prison. That same day, the Military Court indicted them with "murder" and "forming a criminal conspiracy". Upon hearing the charges, Mr. Ilunga tried to grab a gun and to shoot at the presiding judge. On the next day, however, he was released on bail following heavy pressures by administrative and military authorities of the South Kivu province. Mr. Kaningini was similarly released on 14 December 2005.

On 21 December 2005, the Military Court finally declared that the case did not come under its jurisdiction and referred it to the Bukavu Military Court of the high military justice department (auditorat militaire supérieur). By the end of 2005, the Court had not yet scheduled any date for the opening hearing of the trial.

In addition, from 8 to 10 December 2005, Mr. Roger Muchuba, a lawyer and member of Heirs of Justice, received several anonymous phone calls threatening him with death following his repeated demands to the South Kivu judicial administration to carry out a thorough investigation into Mr. Pascal Kabungulu's death. He was also questioned about the murder for over 24 hours by military officers at the same period.

Closure of the Chirezi Foundation, arbitrary arrest and harassment of its members41

On 5 October 2005, ANR agents came to the Chirezi Foundation (Fondation Chirezi – FOCHI) headquarters in Uvira (North Kivu), on the orders of Major Chirimwami. They were looking for Mr. Floribert Kazingufu, FOCHI coordinator and editor-in-chief of the association's newsletter Le Cor, who was not in the office at the time of their visit. ANR officers then seized all the equipment they could find, including all documents and the car of the Foundation. They also arrested Messrs. Philippe Bebe, human rights awareness senior programme officer, and Dieudonné Babunduzi, FOCHI member and brother of Mr. Kazingufu, both present in the office. They were detained for two days in the ANR premises in Uvira. Local authorities reportedly accused Mr. Kazingufu of "undermining State security" and "destabilising the regime" through the activities of the Foundation, which gathers and conveys information on human rights violations perpetrated in the Kivu province.

On 5 October 2005, Mr. Kazingufu was forced to leave Uvira for fear of being arrested and was still hiding by the end of 2005.

Three days later, FOCHI resumed its activities and re-opened its headquarters. The equipment and documents that were confiscated, however, had still not been returned by late 2005.

Serious threats against Mr. Guy Kajemba42

On 26 March 2005, Mr. Guy Kajemba, member of the Provincial Network of Human Rights Organisations in Congo (Réseau provincial des organisations des droits de l'Homme du Congo – REPRODHOC), who was hiding in Goma for two weeks, was forced to leave the city after he was threatened with arrest and death by the North Kivu governor and security officers. Kivu authorities accused Mr. Kajemba of conveying information to the National Network of Human Rights Organisations in the DRC (Réseau national des organisations de droits de l'Homme en RDC – RENADHOC) to facilitate the release of a report on the human rights situation in Kivu that was published in Kinshasa in March 2005.

Repression of human rights defenders – Lower Congo

Attack against Mr. Jacques Bakulu43

On 25 September 2005, Mr. Jacques Bakulu, parish priest, coordinator of the Centre for Community Promotion and Management (Centre de promotion et d'encadrement communautaire – CEPECO) in charge of the focal point of the Network for Natural Resources (Réseau ressources naturelles) advocating for the protection of forest ecosystems, was attacked in his home in Boma when unidentified individuals burnt his house down. Mr. Bakulu lodged a complaint against one or several unknown persons with the public prosecution in Boma. By the end of 2005, the perpetrators of this attack had still not been identified. These events were likely to be related to Mr. Bakulu's statements in the defence of customary and traditional rights of local communities in forest industrial exploitation.

[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.]

20. See Annual Report 2004 and Urgent Appeal RDC 006/0905/OBS 078.

21. See below.

22. See Urgent Appeal RDC 005/0805/OBS 059.1.

23. See below.

24. See Urgent Appeal RDC 005/0805/OBS 059.1.

25. See Annual Report 2004.

26. See Urgent Appeal RDC 008/1205/OBS 128.

27. See Press Release, 16 November 2005.

28. See below.

29. See Urgent Appeal RDC 002/0505/OBS 034.

30. See Urgent Appeals RDC 002/0505/OBS 034.1, 034.2 and 034.3.

31. See Urgent Appeals RDC 003/0705/OBS 049 and 049.1.

32. Idem.

33. See Annual Report 2004.

34. Indeed, SOMIKA is established in a zone that was declared unsuitable for building development in 2000, close to the ground water of Kimilolo feeding into this pumping station, which provides drinking water for 70% of the population in Lubumbashi.

35. See Urgent Appeals RDC 004/0705/OBS 051 and 051.1.

36. See Annual Report 2004.

37. Idem.

38. See Lotus Group.

39. See Annual Report 2004.

40. See Urgent Appeals RDC 005/0805/OBS 059 and 059.1.

41. See Urgent Appeal RDC 007/1005/OBS 101 and Letter to the HCR, 15 November 2005.

42. See Annual Report 2004.

43. See Lotus Group.


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