CIVIL SOCIETY UNDER THREAT: Deaths of Congolese Activists must be investigated

chebayaJohannesburg The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Trust learned with sadness and shock of the death of Floribert Chebeya on 2 June, 2010, and late on June 3, of the death of his colleague, Fidele Bazana. (Pictured:FLORIBER

We call on our partners in civil society to ensure that President Joseph Kabila, through the Ministers of Health and Justice authorises the Director of Medical Services to appoint a coroner and an independent pathologist to conduct autopsies to establish the causes of the deaths of Chebeya and Bazana. The work of the coroner must be transparent and the final report must be made public.

Chebeya was the President of Voice of the Voiceless, which is an OSISA grantee. He was an outspoken critic of corruption and human rights abuses. He had been vocal in his denunciation of the pattern of arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances of opposition leaders and he had worked on exposing corruption in the military. Chebeya had been arrested many times and intimidated by police, yet he worked tirelessly to deepen democracy in the DRC, seeking to build an open society in his country.

His death and that of his colleague, represents the latest in a growing series of threats against human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of particular concern is the fact that none of the murders of the thirteen Human Rights Defenders, who have died under suspicious circumstances in the last seven years, have lead to arrests. The murders of the following individuals remain unresolved: Akite Kisembo and Pascal Kabungulu in 2003; Franck Ngyke Kagundu and Mpoyi Ngongo in 2005; Kailu Mutombo and Louis Mwamba Bapuwa in 2006; Serge Maheshe Kasole and Patrick Wilungula in 2007; Didace Namujimbo Borha and Ms Wabihu Kasuba in 2008; and Bruno Koko Chirambiza in 2009.

BACKGROUND

Chebeya and his driver, Bazana disappeared on the evening of 01 June 2010 following an appointment with the Inspector General of the Police, General John Numbi Banza Tambo. Chebeyas body was found on the following morning, and in the late hours of June 3rd, Bazanas body was discovered.

General Numbi is known for his brutality. Human Rights Watch has documented his involvement in a number of police and military operations against civilians, both in the Katanga province and most recently in Bas-Congo.

TAKE ACTION:

Write to the government of the DRC calling for the immediate appointment of a coroner an impartial pathologist and doctor to witness the autopsy of the corpse of Mr. Chebeya and Mr. Bazana. Request that the Coroners work takes place in the presence of a medical doctor agreed upon by the family, and that the final report is made accessible to the public.

Enquiries can be directed to:

President Joseph Kabila

Palais de la Nation

Avenue de Lemera, Kinshasa-Gombe

E-mail: [email protected]

Justice Minister, Professor Luzolo Bambi Lessa

Ministere de la Justice

228 Avenue de Lemera, Kinshasa-Gombe

E-mail: [email protected]

Tel : 00243815095738

Contact the Africa Union Chairperson, His Excellency President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika (Malawi):

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Tel: +265 1 789 088 Fax: +265 1 788 482

Africa Union Office of the Chairperson

H.E. Amb. Ping

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00

Fax: (251) 11 551 78 44

website:www.africa-union.org

Political Affairs Commissioner

Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner

Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00 ext 134

Fax:(251) 11 552 58 55

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa,

Adv. Reine Alapini-Gansou:

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: [email protected]

Tel: (220) 4410 505 / 4410 506

Fax: (220) 4410 504

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, through the Civil Society Unit of the UNHCR,

Telephone: +41 22 917 9656

EMail: [email protected]

Post published in: Politics

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