PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 62/013/2001
UA 143/01 Arbitrary arrest / Fear of torture 6 June 2001
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)N’sii Luanda Shandwe, human rights activist
Human rights activist N’sii Luanda Shandwe has been arrested in the capital,
Kinshasa. Neither friends nor family have been allowed to see him, and Amnesty
International believes he is at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.
It would appear that he was arrested solely because of the authorities’
intolerance of human rights activists.
N’sii Luanda is the president of the Comité des observateurs des droits de
l’homme (CODHO), Committee of Human Rights Observers. He was arrested at his
home on 2 June, by agents from the security service known as the Détection
militaire des activités anti-patrie (DEMIAP), Military Detection of Unpatriotic
Activities. He was interrogated for several hours and then provisionally
released. However, he was ordered to report to DEMIAP again on 4 June, whereupon
he was rearrested.
The following day he was transferred to a detention centre run by another
security service, the Agence nationale de renseignements (ANR), National
Intelligence Agency, where he is still held.
It appears that his arrest is linked to telephone calls that he is alleged
to have made to contacts both locally and abroad, and which the security services
had reportedly been monitoring. His mobile telephone was confiscated after
he was interrogated by DEMIAP on 2 June. It appears the authorities may consider
the telephone calls to have been of a political and subversive nature.
CODHO, founded in 1997, is one of the DRC’s most active human rights
organisations. It has worked on behalf of many political prisoners and prisoners
of conscience, and continues to play an invaluable role in promoting respect
for human rights in the DRC.
The ANR, DEMIAP and several other security services operate in effect operate
outside the framework of Congolese law and of international human rights
treaties to which the country is party. They are ultimately answerable to the
President or to government ministers, without oversight by the judiciary. The
government has allowed the security services virtually unlimited powers to
arbitrarily detain anyone considered to be a threat to the government, including
human rights activists, politicians, journalists and lawyers.
President Joseph Kabila has yet to honour in full his recent public commitment
to close all unofficial detention centres run by the security services,
including DEMIAP and the ANR. Torture and ill-treatment are commonplace at
these detention centres.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send e-mails/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French, English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the apparently arbitrary arrest and continuing
incommunicado detention of N’sii Luanda;
- urging the authorities to allow his lawyers, family and doctors to see him
immediately, and to allow him any medical treatment he may require without
- asking what charges, if any, he faces;