Democratic Republic of Congo urged to enlist UN to help investigate activist’s death

Amnesty International has called on the Congolese government to set up an independent inquiry commission with the help of the United Nations (UN), to conduct a credible investigation into the death of a leading human rights activist.Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was found dead in his car early on 2 June, a day after being summoned by the police in Kinshasa. His driver, Fidèle Bazana Edadi, is still missing.According to media reports, the head of police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), General John Numbi, was suspended on Sunday until further notice.Three police officers have also been arrested in connection with the killing. One of those held, Police Special Intelligence Services deputy Colonel Daniel Mukalayi, has reportedly confessed to killing Floribert Chebeya on the order of his superior General John Numbi.”The authorities must answer the request made by Mr Chebeya’s family to carry out an independent autopsy by an independent expert,” said Veronique Aubert, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.”They must also launch a thorough, impartial and independent Investigation into the whereabouts of Mr Chebeya’s missing driver and ensure that the families of both men are protected.”In an open letter on Saturday, Amnesty International called on the president of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, to set up an independent inquiry commission with United Nations (UN) investigators and representatives of the Congolese civil society, to look into the killing.Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was the executive director of one of Congo’s largest human rights organizations Voix des Sans Voix (VSV) and of the national network of human rights groups. He was lately working on a number of sensitive affairs involving the head of Police General John Numbi.Mr Chebeya told Amnesty International on several occasions that he felt he had been followed and that he was under surveillance by the security services.On the morning of 1 June, Mr Chebeya received a telephone call requesting his presence at the office of General John Numbi, the General Inspectorate of Police in Ligwala, Kinshasa. He left his offices at 5pm to go to the Inspectorate.Amnesty International has observed increased oppression of human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past year, including by illegal arrest, prosecution, phone threats and repeated summoning to the offices of the intelligence services.