DR Congo

Press briefing notes on Democratic Republic of the Congo, 26 February 2016

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Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 26 Feburary 2016

Harassment of civil society organizations continues as democratic space shrinks in the DRC, with six members of the LUCHA movement sentenced to two years in prison by the district Court of Goma on Wednesday.

On 16 February, six LUCHA activists were arrested by the ANR (Agence nationale de renseignements) in Goma, in an apparent bid to prevent their participation in and reduce public support for a “ghost town” day organized across the country by opposition parties and civil society organizations. This “ghost town” day was organized to commemorate the killing of demonstrators by security forces in Kinshasa in 1992.

The six activists were convicted for incitement to revolt against the authorities. All hearings took place within seven days. Violations of fair trial proceedings were reported, as the activists were not afforded appropriate time to prepare their defence, and the court refused to look into evidence submitted by defence lawyers. There were also allegations that the police fabricated evidence.

In total, some 45 arrests were carried out by police and intelligence forces during the “ghost town” day in Kinshasa, Goma, Uvira, Lubumbashi, mainly targeting members of the opposition parties and the civil society.

We are also concerned at the ongoing detention of another LUCHA member, Fred Bauma, and an IT technician Yves Makwambala. Both were arrested by the ANR during a youth workshop in Kinshasa on 15 March 2015 and are facing trial for attempt against state security. There have been in their case allegations of arbitrary detention; repeated violations of their rights, including lack of access to legal assistance; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in detention; and having being forced to sign statements without having read their contents.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)