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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release: Assassination of the journalist and human rights defender Serge Maheshe

The Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Me Reine Alapini-Gansou expresses her profound regrets after the assassination of Serge Maheshe, journalist and human rights defender in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Serge Maheshe was killed on 13 June 2007 in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo by two unknown men.

The Special Rapporteur expresses profound concern especially for the security of human rights defenders in the DRC particularly in Kivu. This assassination comes two years after the assassination in Bukavu of another human rights defender, Pascal Kabungulu Kimbembi, Secretary General of the organization "Heirs of Justice". The authors of this assassination are not known to date and the investigation process has been slow.

The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities of the DRC to take all necessary measures to guarantee the freedom of human rights defenders in the DRC to carry out their work as human rights defenders and to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteur wishes to remind the Government of the DRC of its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights , with particular reference to articles 1, 4 and 9 ; its responsibility under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, with particular reference to articles 1 and 12.2. The government is also respectfully reminded of its obligations under the Grand Bay and Kigali Declarations and other international human rights instruments ratified by the DRC.

The Special Rapporteur urges all Congolese authorities in high ranking positions to take all necessary legal and judicial measures regarding the subsequent investigation of this situation which harms the successful progress made by human rights defenders in Africa.