BRAZZAVILLE, 1 July (IRIN) - The main human rights NGO in the Republic of Congo, the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), pulled out of the state-sponsored National Commission of Human Rights on Thursday to protest what it says is the commission's inaction on known abuses and lack of government independence.
"The government does not consider the commission to be a constitutional institution with administrative and financial autonomy," Roger Bouka-Owoko, the OCDH executive director, said during a news conference on Thursday to announce the NGO's decision.
He urged the government to release 17 members of the state's security forces who, he said, had been detained illegally since January. He said they were arrested following the disappearance of weapons and had been "secretly detained" in violation of their human rights.
He said another reason OCDH had withdraw from the national commission was that the government had failed to provide the state's rights body with adequate funding.
The OCDH has been a member of the national commission since September 2003.
The national commission was formed in accordance with ROC's constitution which came into effect on 20 January 2002. However, the body only started functioning on 9 January 2005 after the end of the five-year transition period following the country's civil war.
The commission's mandate is to advise the government and public institutions on human's right issues and draw attention to violations. It is made up of human rights NGOs, civil society and public institutions that are nominated to be permanent and associate members by presidential decree.
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