PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 62/26/99
UA 261/99 Incommunicado detention/Fear of Torture 5 October 1999
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)
Feu d’Or BONSANGE, music editor
Kala BONGAMBA, printer
Clovis KADDA, Director of publication - all working for the newspaper, L’Alarme.
Amnesty International is extremely concerned that Kala Bongamba and Feu d’Or
Bonsange are being subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment. They were arrested in the capital, Kinshasa, in the early
hours of 27 September 1999, by soldiers of the 50th military division. The
detainees were reportedly first held in the residence of a senior military
official, before being transferred on the evening of 2 October to an unofficial
detention centre in a building known as the “GLM”.
Their arrest is part of an official policy of harassment and intimidation since
1997 of the people who produce l’Alarme newspaper. In 1997, the editor, Bonsange
Yema, was arrested in Kisangani and accused of giving information to a UN team
investigating massacres there. In 1998 he was sentenced to one year’s
imprisonment in connection with an article published by l’Alarme. In February
1999, shortly after his release from prison, several members of his family
were arrested and some of them were tortured to make them reveal his whereabouts
[see UA 53/99].
For a number of weeks soldiers have come to the newspaper office and Bonsange
Yema’s home and confiscated office equipment, furniture and personal property
from the family home.
The director of l’Alarme, Clovis Kadda, was arrested on 22 September 1999 and
taken for questioning at the Kinshasa military headquarters after the
authorities learned that one of the rebel commanders is his relative. He was
severely tortured after being accused of complicity with the enemy. Although
he was released the following day, he remains in hiding fearing rearrest and
ill-treatment. He has been informed by sources close to the security forces
that his rearrest is likely.
The Congolese government signed a peace agreement with the rebel forces in
Amnesty International has documented hundreds of cases of torture and
ill-treatment in the DRC since President Kabila came to power in 1997. President
Kabila told an Amnesty International delegation visiting the country in August
1999 that there were only some “isolated cases” of torture in the country.
However, no allegations of torture are known to have been investigated - the
torturers continue in the knowledge that they will enjoy impunity.
Torture appears to be systematic in unofficial or military detention centres,
where prisoners are kept incommunicado. The “GLM building” is one of Kinshasa’s
most notorious detention centres, where countless cases of extreme torture
have been reported. During a visit to Kinshasa in August 1999, Amnesty
International representatives learned that in some cases torture is so extreme
that the victims may have died as a result.