PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 62/24/98
EXTRA 46/98 Fear of imminent execution 13 July 1998
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Kyunga wa Mbuyu
Tshisola Piere Yiukilayi
The above named men are at risk of imminent execution after being sentenced
to death by the Cour d’ordre militaire, Military Order Court, in Katanga
province, formerly known as Shaba,in hearings which took place between 5 and
23 June 1998.
The condemned people, civilians and members of the military, were found guilty
of murder, armed robbery, and criminal association.
Although the defendants were reportedly allowed legal counsel during the trial,
the Court’s proceedings have consistently contravened international norms for
fair trial. Defendants and their counsel are not allowed sufficient time and
resources to prepare their defence. The military court’s statute prohibits
appeal to a higher jurisdiction, leaving defendants with no opportunity to
challenge convictions and sentences handed down by the court. Although the
court was established to try soldiers, it is increasingly being used to try
civilians, and is being applied to ordinary crimes.
Over the last months, military tribunals in the Democratic Republic of Congo
have sentenced dozens of people to death, many of them civilians. Since January
1998, at least 56 people have been executed within days of being sentenced
to death by the Cour d’ordre militaire, Military Order Court, which was set
up in 1997 by President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. The competence of the country’s
judges is unknown.
On 18 April 1998, President Kabila granted presidential clemency to Malume
Mudherwa, a 15 year-old boy sentenced to death on 28 March, following an
international campaign against his execution.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all countries and all
circumstances, because it is a state-sanctioned violation of the right to life
and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French or your own language:
- urging President Laurent-Désiré Kabila to commute the death sentences of
the persons sentenced to death in Katanga in June 1998;