Amnesty International today challenged Congo's new President Joseph Kabila to publicly demonstrate his commitment to human rights and the rule of law by putting an immediate end to the torture and killing of suspected opponents, and to account for alleged government opponents who were reportedly executed in late 2000 or whose whereabouts remain unknown.
* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
28 March 2001
Amnesty International today challenged Congo's new President
Joseph Kabila to publicly demonstrate his commitment to human
rights and the rule of law by putting an immediate end to the
torture and killing of suspected opponents, and to account for
alleged government opponents who were reportedly executed in late
2000 or whose whereabouts remain unknown.
In "Deadly conspiracies", a new report published today on
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Amnesty International
said over 100 people from the Kivu region of eastern DRC are
currently held incommunicado and are at risk of torture or
execution. Most of them have been detained without charge since
late 2000 in connection with an alleged coup plot. Several dozen
others were arrested in the wake of the assassination of
President Laurent-Desire Kabila in January 2001. Amnesty
International fears that some of these individuals are being
arbitrarily detained simply because they are from the Kivu
"Confirmation that 11 Lebanese nationals were killed by
unidentified members of the security services around mid-January
2001 highlights the sheer extent to which the rule of law is
flouted in the DRC," Amnesty International added.
Other high-profile casualties of these brutal tactics
include a suspected ringleader of the alleged coup plot, Anselme
Masasu Nindaga, a former member of the coalition of armed groups
which brought President Laurent-Désiré Kabila to power in 1997.
After earlier denials, the Government is reported to have
recently confirmed that he was executed. No further details were
given. Other sources had maintained that Masasu and some seven
others were executed towards the end of November 2000 in Katanga
province, possibly after a summary trial before the Cour d'ordre
militaire (COM), Military Order Court.
Some top DRC officials appear to have, at the very least
condoned, and perhaps actively instigated, some of these
executions, apparently as a means of stamping out perceived
opposition to their hold on power.
"The killing of opponents was elevated to a tool of
government policy under former President Laurent-Désiré Kabila.
Torture of detainees, to extract information and to inflict
arbitrary punishment, became commonplace," said Amnesty
"While recognising the right of the government to
prosecute suspected criminals, we fear that those detained in
connection with the alleged coup plot, or with the assassination
of President Laurent-Desiré Kabila, cannot expect to receive a
fair trial if brought before the Cour d'ordre militaire," said
Since its inception in 1997, COM has attained a notoriety
for dispensing summary justice with little regard to
international fair trial standards. More than 200 prisoners
sentenced to death by the COM have been executed since October
1997. At least 25 people, including civilians, were condemned to
death during 2000 by the COM, and at least 35 people are known to
have been executed during the year, some within hours of their
trial. None were given the opportunity to appeal against their
sentence. "We once again urge the government to either reform the
COM or to replace it with a court which conforms to international
fair trial standards."
In order to safeguard the physical integrity of these
detainees, Amnesty International is urging the government to
immediately publish the names and whereabouts of all those
currently detained incommunicado in connection with the alleged
coup plot or assassination and to allow immediate access to the
detainees for relatives, lawyers and doctors. While some
detainees who"disappeared" from their initial place of detention
have recently reappeared, including Aimée Ntabarusha Mungu and
her son David Mulume, who are now being held at Kinshasa's main
prison, the human rights organization is concerned that many of
those who "disappeared" remain unaccounted for.
All allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions
should be thoroughly and impartially investigated and suspected
perpetrators brought to justice and the victims and their
relatives compensated. Such investigations should include the
reported extrajudicial execution of 11 Lebanese nationals in
Kinshasa in mid-January, Amnesty said.
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