DR Congo: Returned ICC witnesses must not face death penalty or torture

The Congolese authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) must do everything in their power to ensure that three men due to be returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this weekend do not face the death penalty, torture or other serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today. 

Amnesty International believes the three former ICC witnesses face a real risk of persecution and reprisals in the DRC because of the testimony they submitted to the ICC accusing President Kabila of involvement in serious crimes. 

“Amnesty International has protested against the return of these detained witnesses and calls on the ICC and the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure that all necessary protective measures are in place when they arrive in Kinshasa,” said Evie Francq, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the DRC. 

“The ICC has a duty to monitor the wellbeing of these men when they return home and to ensure the local authorities live up to their promises to protect the men from human rights violations. The Congolese justice system must cooperate,” said Evie Francq. 

The three Congolese nationals – Floribert Ndjabu Ngabu, Sharif Manda Ndadza Dz’Na, and Pierre-Célestin Mbodina Iribi – were called to The Hague in 2011 as witnesses in the ICC prosecution of former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga. They are expected to be taken into custody on their arrival in Kinshasa, having been held in prison in the DRC prior to their transfer to The Hague in connection with allegations of crimes under international law. They have been in ICC and Dutch custody since.

They are due to be returned to Kinshasa on Sunday after the Dutch authorities rejected their request for asylum.