PRESS RELEASE ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDERS IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGOBanjul, 14 th September 2010
The Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mr. Mohamed Béhir Khalfallah expresses its deep concern following the information received regarding the abduction and submission to abuse of human right defenders.
- According to information received by the ACHPR , Sylvester Bwire Kyah, Chairman of civil society in Masisi territory, was abducted on 24 August 2010, following his drafting and signing an open letter to Congolese President Joseph Kabila, on 30 July 2010. The open letter allegedly requested the withdrawal of all army units members of tread and police made up of former members of armed groups who where recently integrated into the Congolese army and police in Masisi territory. He was allegedly found on 30 August 2010 near Sake, thirty miles in the west of Goma.
- The information received by the ACHPR sate that Mr Bwire was visibly weak, with swollen face, his arms bearing traces of the rope with which he was apparently tied up during his detention.
- The continued deterioration of the situation of human right defenders in the Congo raises serious concerns as the ACHPR received information about murders of journalists and leaders of associations of human rights - including Bruno Koko Cirambiza Didace Namujimbo, Maheshe and Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi.
- The ACHPR is alarmed that the perpetrated of soul crimes still remain unpunished, not only because of political will but also because of the fact that the civilian and military prosecutors have refrained to order the opening of a vigorous and impartial investigation.
- The Special Rapporteur calls on Congolese authorities to put an end to impunity for perpetrators of crimes against human right defenders. Government authorities must assume their responsibility to protect them, ensuring their physical and psychological integrity, in accordance with commitments made by DR Congo in the various conventions and treaties it has ratified.
- The special rapporteur recalls also his press release on June 2010 concerning the case of Mr Floribert Chebeya Bahizire’s death. He calls on the Government of DRC to keep International Community informed about the progress of the investigation.
- The Special Rapporteur wishes to remind the Government of the DRC its obligation to investigate promptly, thoroughly and impartially on the abduction and ill-treatment of Mr. Sylvester Bwire Kyah. He urges the Government of DRC to publicly condemn this act, and identify those responsible for bringing them to justice.