• Campaigns

Democratic Republic of Congo: Fear for safety: Freddy Kitoko, human rights activist

, Index number: AFR 62/015/1998

There are grave concerns for the safety of leading members of the non-governmental Zairian Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AZADHO). On 4 April 1998, heavily armed members of the security forces entered one of the AZADHO offices based in Lubumbashi, Katanga province, in search of its president, Freddy Kitoko.Members of the National Intelligence Service (ANR) are also known to have been searching for Freddy Kitoko, now in hiding.

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 62/15/98
UA 105/98 Fear for safety 6 April 1998
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO Freddy Kitoko, human rights activist
There are grave concerns for the safety of leading members of the
non-governmental Association Zaïroise de défense de droits de l’homme (AZADHO),
Zairian Association for the Defence of Human Rights. On 4 April 1998, heavily
armed members of the security forces entered one of the AZADHO offices based
in Lubumbashi, Katanga province, in search of its president, Freddy Kitoko.
Members of the Agence nationale de renseignements (ANR), National Intelligence
Service, are also known to have been searching for Freddy Kitoko, now in hiding.
On 3 April, in a live television broadcast the Minister of Justice, Mwenze
Kongolo, accused AZADHO of leading political campaigns against the government
and receiving money from abroad. He duly declared the country’s largest human
rights organization illegal. He also criticised AZADHO for continuing to use
the old country name of Zaïre in its title. He also demanded that all human
rights organizations register at the Ministry of Justice within three days
or face a ban.
On 20 March, human rights activist Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, president of
La voix des sans voix (VSV), The Voiceless, another non-governmental human
rights organization in Kinshasa, was attacked by five armed men at his home
while he slept. They repeatedly threatened him with death and left him
wounded. No investigations into this case are known to have been undertaken
by the authorities (see UA 98/98, AFR 62/12/98, 27 March 1998).
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Hundreds of people have been arrested in various parts of the DRC since the
Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo-Zaire (AFDL)
Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire took power
on 17 May 1997. Many of those arrested are leading members of political
opposition groups, journalists and human rights activists. Human rights
activists have also been repeatedly harassed, threatened and searched by the
security forces.
Examples of the emerging pattern of abuses against human rights activists in
DRC include Roger Sala Nzo Badila and Nyabirungu Mwene Songa, both leading
members of the centre national des droits de l’homme (CENADHO), National Centre
for Human Rights. They have been detained for more than two months. In March
1998 The Vice-President of the Association Zairoise de défense de droits de
l’Homme (AZADHO), Zairian Human Rights Association, was summoned to court
because of a press statement on massacres in Eastern Congo issued by his
organization, and copies of the organisation’s annual report have been seized.
In November 1997, Nsii Luanda Shandwe, president of the Comides observateurs
des droits de l’homme (CODHO), Committee of human rights observers, was warned
that the security forces were looking for him. On 12 February 1998, high ranking
military officials reportedly said that they were still searching for Nsii
Luanda Shandwe, in order to arrest him.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or in your own language:
2
- expressing concern for the safety of Freddy Kitoko and other members of the
Association Zaïroise de défense de droits de l’homme (AZADHO), Zairian
Association for the Defence of Human Rights;
- calling upon the authorities to guarantee the safety of Freddy Kitoko and
other members of AZADHO;
- expressing concern that AZADHO was declared illegal on 3 April 1998;
- urging the government to stop harassment and arrests of human rights activists,
in order for them to work without fear for their members’ safety and to
investigate incidents of harassment and attacks.
APPEALS TO:
(Please note: fax tones can be very difficult to obtain)
Son Excellence Laurent-Désiré KABILA
Président de la République
Présidence de la République
Kinshasa-Ngaliema
Democratic Republic of Congo
Telegrams: President Kabila, Kinshasa, DR Congo
Faxes: + 243 88 02120
Salutation: Monsieur le Président de la République / Dear President
Minister of Justice
M. Mwenze KONGOLO
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 President
Minister of State for Internal Affairs
Gaetan KAKUDJI
Ministre d'Etat à 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:
Le Phare (independent newspaper)
Faxes: + 1 212 3769270 (Note: this is a number in the United States from
where faxes are transmitted to Le Phare)
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 18 May 1998.

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