DRC: SADC leaders should give prominence to addressing human rights violations to prevent further deterioration of the stability of the Great Lakes region
AI Index Number: AFR 62/5909/2017
Ref: TG AFR 62/2017.001
Heads of State
Southern African Development
Community - SADC
Greetings from Amnesty International.
I write to raise Amnesty International’s concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the country struggles to find a solution to the current political impasse and uphold its regional and international obligations to protect, promote and fulfil human rights. We commend efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the DRC to resolve the current crisis and believe the Extraordinary Summit to be held on 18 March in Swaziland should give prominence to addressing human rights violations to prevent further deterioration of the stability of the Great Lakes region.
Since 2014, Amnesty International has documented numerous human rights violations linked to the electoral process in the DRC, including violations of to the right to life and security of the person, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
Over the past three years, the DRC authorities have arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained several political leaders and human rights defenders who have spoken out against delays in the organization of elections in 2016 and called on President Joseph Kabila to step down in December 2016 as his second and last constitutional mandate ended.
The justice system itself has become a tool of reprisal against political candidates and human rights defenders.
For example, on 20 January 2015, Jean Claude Muyambo Kiassa, an opposition leader from Congolese Solidarity for Democracy and Development (Solidarité congolaise pour la démocratie et le développement) was arrested and charged with breach of confidence, illegal withholding of documents and threatening assault. The arrest happened after Jean Claude Muyambo Kiassa called for President Joseph Kabila to designate a successor and proposed the name of Moise Katumbi as the candidate of the Presidential Majority platform for the 2016 elections.
In March 2015, youth activists beginning to organize around the electoral process through the citizen’s movements Struggle for Change (Lutte pour le Changement) and Filimbi were arrested at a press conference in Kinshasa and unlawfully detained. While many were released over the following days, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala spent more than a year in prison after being detained for 50 and 40 days respectively in secret detention.
In September 2015, Moise Katumbi Chapwe, former Governor of Katanga province, announced his resignation from the governorship and the ruling party. In June 2016, he was summoned before judges on accusation of possessing a private militia after his intention to run for office in the 2016 elections was made public.