Press Release on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is closely monitoring the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter).

    The Commissioner, Rapporteur responsible for the Human Rights Situation in the DRC and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, is deeply concerned about the worsening situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the country.

    Reliable information has it that that human rights defenders have been subjected to violations perpetrated by unidentified persons or with the connivance of the DRC authorities  with the aim of silencing  or preventing them from exercising their human rights promotion and protection activities within the context of the crisis faced by the country.

    The Special Rapporteur notes in particular the recent cases of assassination of HRDs, especially the case of Mr. Alphonse Luanda Kalyamba, Director of the Centre for Assistance to Unaccompanied Children and Orphans (CERAO), an organisation working on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers, on 12 June, 2017;  and of Mr. Marcel Tengeneza, Vice-President of a Civil Society Coalition  in Kirumba, North-Kivu, who was shot in his home by two unknown gunmen in the night of 14 December, 2016 and the assassination on 24 April 2016, of Father Vincent Machozi, who was shot several times by gunfire by the DRC armed forces, leading to his death.

    Several other reports have also indicated threats of death, arbitrary arrests, detentions and imprisonment of human rights defenders in the DRC.

    The Special Rapporteur strongly condemns this situation and the reprisals targeted at civil society activists, which actions are motivated solely by their legitimate activities of promoting and protecting human rights.

    In this regard, the Special Rapporteur urges the Government of the DRC to:

    1.     Provide the African Commission with clarifications on the assassinations of Messrs. Alphonse Luanda Kalyamba, Marcel Tengeneza and Father Vincent Machozi;

    2.     In case it is proven, open a proper, independent and impartial investigation into the reported facts in order to identify the perpetrators, prosecute and punish them in accordance with due process pursuant to the relevant legislation;  

    3.     Free all human rights defenders prosecuted and detained arbitrarily and bring to an end all forms of harassment perpetrated against them;

    4.     Take all the necessary measures to guarantee and preserve the physical and psychological  integrity as well as the security of all human rights defenders in the DRC;

    5.     Ensure that human rights defenders in the DRC are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities in all circumstances without fear of reprisals and to operate freely without any forms of intimidation and judicial harassment;

    6.     Comply with its obligations under regional and international human rights instruments by refraining from any act of interference and elimination of the rights of HRDs.

    The Special Rapporteur wishes to remind the DRC authorities about their obligation to guarantee fundamental rights, including the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law; the right to life, to dignity and physical integrity; the right to freedom and security of the person and the right to be protected from arbitrary arrests and detentions; and the freedom of association, of assembly and expression established by Articles 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11 of the African Charter.

    The Special Rapporteur will continue to monitor developments in the situation of HRDs in the DRC and requests the African Union and the international community to contribute to the effective realisation of human and peoples’ rights in the DRC.

    Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa

     

     Banjul, June 2017

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      Date: 29 June 2017

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