PRESS RELEASE ON THE DETENTION OF Mr. Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo
Banjul, 13 March 2007 . The Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Adv. Reine Alapini-Gansou expresses her profound concern following information she has received regarding a human rights defender Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo, Lawyer and President of the Goma based Non governmental Organization “Action pour un Congo pacifié et développé” (ACPD), who has spent more than 50 days in detention.
The Special Rapporteur expresses particular concern following reports of the transfer of Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo to the headquarters of the military intelligence in Kinshasa on the 6 th March 2007 in Kinshasa. Before being transferred, Mr. Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo had been detained at the private residence of Colonel Diur. He was later transported by the latter in a military jet to Kinshasa on the 26 th February 2007.
The Special Rapporteur is extremely concerned about reports alleging that Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo was detained incommunicado in an unofficial place of detention (the private residence of Colonel Diur) since 26 th February and that he may have been tortured.
According to independent sources, Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo was arrested on the 18 th January without a warrant and under the orders of General John Numbi, Commander the Air Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was detained in custody at the Department of Intelligence and Security” Direction de Renseignements et de Sécurité ( T2)” in the Goma's eighth military region.
The Special Rapporteur is also concerned for the health of Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo as it is believed that he may be suffering from Malaria and he has not been granted access to medical treatment. It has also been reported that he has been denied access to legal counsel and his family has not been permitted to visit him.
The Special Rapporteur is extremely concerned that the ongoing acts of harassment against Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo, may be related to his legitimate human rights work, in particular his peaceful activities with the ACPD.
The Special Rapporteur urges the DRC authorities to immediately release Mr.Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo, and also to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity in all circumstancesand that of all human rights defenders in DRC. She further urges the DRC authorities to take all necessary measures to open promptly an adequate and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Benjamin Luanda Mitsindo to determine whether the allegations about his arrest, detention and torture are true.
The DRC Government is also urged to authorize visits from his family members and allow access to his lawyer as well as medical visits.
The Special Rapporteur also reminds the Government of its responsibility under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, with particular reference to Articles 1 and 12.2 and under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 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, particularly the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture.