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Democratic Republic of Congo: Ill-treatment/prisoner of conscience

, رقم الوثيقة: AFR 62/027/1997

Didi Mwati Bulambo, human rights activist: This prominent local human rights activist was arrested by soldiers on 23 August 1997 and is being held in a military camp. Reports that he has been ill-treated in detention have raised concern for his well-being.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 62/27/97
UA 298/97 Ill-treatment / Prisoner of conscience 9 September 1997
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)Didi Mwati Bulambo, human rights activist
Didi Mwati Bulambo, a prominent local human rights activist, was arrested by
soldiers on 23 August 1997 and is being held in a military camp in Kamituga,
Mwenga district of South-Kivu. Amnesty International believes that he is a
prisoner of conscience. Reports that he has been ill-treated in detention
have raised concern for his well-being.
Didi Mwati Bulambo is the general coordinator of the Collectif d’action pour
le développement des droits de l’homme (CADDHOM), Collective of Actions for
Human Rights Development, a non-governmental organization in Kamituga. The
official motive for his arrest has been given as incitement of the population
against the Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo-Zaire
(AFDL), the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire,
the Congolese national army. However, Amnesty International believes he was
arrested because of his human rights activities. He has been allowed access
to one of his relatives, who brings him food, but has not been allowed access
to other members of his family, to legal counsel or to medical care.
Didi Mwati Bulambo was arrested and detained previously in July 1996, following
a series of articles he had written criticizing corruption in the Procuracy
of Kamituga. During his detention at that time, he was subjected to whippings
and denied access to a doctor after he became ill.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Hundreds of people are reported to have been arrested in various parts of the
DRC since the AFDL took power on 17 May 1997. The vast majority of these arrests
are reported to be arbitrary, carried out without arrest warrants, by soldiers
who do not have the legal power to make arrests under Congolese law. Detainees
are often held incommunicado, sometimes in unofficial detention centres such
as private residences. Reports of ill-treatment and torture are common.
Those arrested have included members of political opposition groups critical
of the AFDL, journalists, human rights activists as well as many dignitaries,
including ministers of the former government. The AFDL have officially banned
political parties outside of the Alliance and suspended the Zaïrian constitution
which guaranteed freedom of association and the right to hold peaceful
demonstrations.
Forces of the AFDL have also committed other severe human rights violations
in recent weeks, including dozens of extrajudicial executions in the capital
Kinshasa. Amnesty International has urged the authorities to investigate such
allegations and bring the perpetrators to justice.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/express/airmail letters in French
or your own language:
- expressing concern that Didi Mwati Bulambo is a prisoner of conscience held
solely because of his human rights activities, and calling for his immediate
and unconditional release;
- expressing concern at reports of his ill-treatment and urging that immediate
steps be taken to ensure that he will not be subjected to further ill-treatment;
- urging that he be allowed full access to his family, medical care and legal
counsel;
2
- asking for information on the reason for his arrest;
if possible, also:
- calling for immediate steps to end the current trend of arbitrary arrests
and incommunicado detention in the DRC by prohibiting the use of unofficial
detention centres and taking action within the law against military or civilian
authorities who arrest and detain people without the legal authority to do
so.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of Justice
M. Célestin LWANGI
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
BP 3137
Kinshasa-Gombe
Democratic Republic of Congo
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Kinshasa, DR Congo
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
Minister of the Interior
M. Mwenze KONGOLO
Ministre de l'Intérieur
Hôtel du Conseil exécutif
Kinshasa-Gombe
Democratic Republic of Congo
Telegrams: Ministre Interieur, Kinshasa, DR Congo
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Commandant Anselme Masasu NINDAGA
Chef d’Etat-Major de l’AFDL
Ministère de la Défense
BP 4734
Kinshasa-Gombe
Democratic Republic of Congo
and to diplomatic representatives of the Democratic Republic of Congo accredited
to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 23 October 1997.

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