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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Joint Press Release by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa on the Human Rights Situation Following the Events Surrounding the Amendment of the Electoral Law in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in AfricaMrs. Reine Alapini-Gansou, and the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in AfricaCommissioner Med S.K. Kaggwa, are deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in DRC, in particular the number of arrests and detentions following the protests that took place after the adoption on 17 January 2015, by Parliament of the Bill to amend the 2006 Electoral Law (the Bill).

The Special Rapporteurs have received information that violence and abuses were committed by Security Officers during the various protests against the Bill that took place across the country. The Special Rapporteurs call on the Congolese authorities to investigate these allegations and take the necessary disciplinary and judicial measures.

The Special Rapporteurs are also concerned over the allegations of arrest and detention of several individuals and opposition members. Particularly, the Special Rapporteurs are concerned on alleged irregularities that have characterized the arrest and detention of Mr Christopher Ngoyi Mutamba, a human rights defender, reportedly arrested by police on January 21, 2015.

If confirmed, the Special Rapporteurs call on the Congolese government to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the right of Mr. Christopher Ngoyi Mutamba to a fair trial is guaranteed and to conduct as soon as possible, an inquiry to establish responsibilities with regard to allegations of irregularities during his arrest and detention.

The Special Rapporteurs call upon the various stakeholders to give priority to dialogue and consensus in order to improve the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Special Rapporteurs further call on the Congolese authorities to implement the recommendations contained in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay Declaration, the Kigali Declaration, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, and the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa.

The Special Rapporteurs would like to remind the Congolese authorities of their obligations to guarantee fundamental rights, including access to justice and the right to a fair trial, as well as freedom of assembly, association and expression as provided in Articles 6, 7, 10 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


Banjul, 11 February 2015