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Democratic Republic of the Congo
10.08.01
Urgent Interventions

Congo-Brazzaville : refoulement of asylum seekers from DRC

Case COD/COG 090201.1
Follow-up of Case COG 090201

Geneva, August 10th, 2001

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO) and the Comité des Observateurs des Droits de l’Homme, (CODHO), both members of the OMCT network, that the 19 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that were arrested in Brazzaville on January 28th 2001 have been deported to Kinshasa, upon the specific request of Kinshasa authorities, on April 23rd 2001. They were initially detained in the DRC National Information Agency’s detention facilities, where they were reportedly subjected to torture, before being transferred to Pavilion 1 of the Penitentiary and Re-education Center (ex-Central Prison of Makala) in Kinshasa. The 19 persons in question have not been allowed to meet with their families or legal representation and have not been brought before a judge.

According to the information received, the persons in question are: Materanya Kasisi Henri, Marhegane Bishanvu Pascal, Baguma Safari Gervais, Balungwe Birhashwirwa Depho, Bugogero Kabona Marcelin, Munganga Ndjaki André, Yenga Muhindo Georges, Bakenga Kakomere Cyprien, Companyi Kizito Yves, Bashizi Mufungizi Yamaki, Bahaya Maheshe Bernard, Malekera Balol’Ebwami Vital, Basole Baziraboba Théodore, Bisimwa Cubaya Jimmy, Cikuru Chambu Marcelin, Kikuni Longoma Justin, Muzima Mwenyezi Césaire, Balegamire Bafunyembaka Joseph, Kashindi Mubone Elias.

According to the information received, these persons have been deported in spite of their requests for refugee status, which were addressed to the UNHCR’s offices in Brazzaville and which were reportedly not refused. The Brazzaville authorities have not informed the persons in question about the reasons for their deportation and the detainees were also not given any chance to appeal the decision, which is in violation of their rights, under the provisions concerning refugees in the Convention on Refugee Status (1951) and the Organization of African Unity Convention (1969) to which both countries are party.

According to the information received, the asylum seekers had left the DRC in November and December 2001, during the wave of mass arrests of residents of South-Kivu, North Kivu, and Maniema by the DRC authorities. These arbitrary arrests targeted persons suspected of intending to subvert the regime that had been established in October 2000, and tens of civil and military persons arrested during this period were reportedly subjected to forced disappearances and summary executions.

OMCT is gravely concerned for the 19 detainees’ physical and psychological integrity, given the conditions under which they are being detained, and especially due to the risk of them again being tortured and possibly executed, as was the case of persons previously detained by the RDC authorities for similar reasons.

Brief reminder of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Comité des Observateurs des Droits de l’Homme, (CODHO), a member of the OMCT network, of the arbitrary arrest of 19 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Brazzaville.

According to the information received, they were arrested on 28 January 2001 by police in Brazzaville. The police arrested these persons at their homes at about 5 am, without presenting them with an arrest warrant or giving them any reasons for their arrest. The 19 men originate from the DRC provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema (in the East of the country) and were forced to flee the country since October 2000, due to being suspected of having conducted a failed attempted coup against the late President Kabila

The detainees had spent 48 hours without anything to eat or drink and were detained in the police detention facilities of the ‘Plateau’ on 28 January 2001, from 5 am to 5 pm, and then in the jails of the DGST (Direction Générale de la Sécurité du Territoire) until 29 January 2001. They were then detained in the jails of the Interrogation Department (Agence Nationale de Renseignements’ Departement Chargé de l’Interrogatoire) from 29 January 2001 to the time of their deportation.

According to the CODHO, the Protection Service of the UNHCR/Brazzaville requested without success that the authorities in Brazzaville release these detainees. The 19 persons were photographed by the police and the rumours circulated that some of them were going to be handed over the authorities in Kinshasa.

Furthermore, since 10 January 2001, the CODHO received information that security service agents from Kinshasa had been closely surveying the movements of certain Congolese refugees and asylum seekers in Brazzaville. These agents had been seen hanging around the offices of the UNHCR/Brazzaville with the aim of apprehending certain persons and taking them back to Kinshasa by force.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the above-mentioned persons;
ii. intervene with the appropriate authorities in order to secure that those detained be allowed to meet with their relatives and/or lawyers;
iii. order the immediate release of the above-mentioned persons in the absence of valid legal charges or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

· President Joseph Kabila. Présidence de la République, Kinshasa-Ngaliema, République Démocratique du Congo. Fax (+ 243) 880 02 120
· Minister of Justice, Ministère de la Justice, BP 3137, Kinshasa Gombé, République Démocratique du Congo. Fax : (+243) 880 55 21
· Minister of Human Rights, Ministre des droits humains, Fax : (+243) 12 20 664

Please also write to the embassies of the Democratic Republic of Congo in your respective country.

Geneva, August 10th, 2001

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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