The Human Rights Actions Network


Democratic Republic of Congo: Arrest of Human Rights Defender

RDC 003 / 9805 / OBS 030
Arrest / accusation
Democratic Republic of Congo
12th May 1998

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
programme of the FIDH and OMCT requests you to intervene with utmost
urgency in connection with the following situation in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

Brief description of the situation

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights defenders has just
been informed by the AZHADHO, a member of the FIDH and OMCT, of the
arrest in Goma, province of North Kivu, of Mrs. Immaculé Biraheka,
member of the PAIF Group of Goma,  on May 8th 1998. PAIF is a
non-governmental organisation working for the defence and promotion of
human rights, active in the defence of women's rights and the
co-ordinator of the actions of several other groups with the same aim.

According to information received, Mrs. Immaculé Biraheka is alleged
to have been arrested for having met Mr. Dave Peterson of the American
National Endowment for Democracy who was passing through Goma in order
to meet representatives of NGOs ; Dave Peterson has already been in
the Democratic Republic of Congo on several occasions  and is
well-known in NGO circles in DRC. The National Endowment for Democracy
helps to finance numerous NGOs throughout the world. Mrs. Immaculé
Biraheka is at present being detained in the cells of the Rapid
Intervention Police in Goma.

According to the same information, the President, Mr. Laurent Désiré
Kabila allegedly accused Paul Nsapu and Sabin Banza, President and
vice President respectively of the Electors' League (a human rights
NGO) of being « spies in the service of Belgium, plotting to overthrow
him » during a press conference on Monday 11th May 1987 in Kinshasa.
Paul Nsapu and Sabin Banza were abducted on April 27th 1998 by six
armed persons three of whom were in military uniform.  (see appeal RD
C001 / 9803/OBS 020.02).

They were taken to the premises of the National Security Agency in the
commune of Gombe where they are still being detained.

The Observatory fears that the arrest of Mrs Immaculé Biraheka and
Paul Nsapu and Sabin Banza is merely a retaliation for their work for
human rights. The Observatory once again, condemns the systematic
repression of human rights defenders by the authorities of the
Democratic Republic of Congo. It further  stresses the need for the
authorities to guarantee the safety and freedom of expression, of
opinion and association of all persons engaged in the promotion and
defence of human rights.

Action requested

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

i.-	immediately release Mrs. Immaculé Biraheka as well as Pasul Nsapu
and Sabin Banza and ensure in all circumstances the respect of their
physical and psychological integrity ;

ii.-	urgently adopt all measures capable of guaranteeing to human
rights organisations the means to act freely from any interference in
promoting and defending human rights and fundamental liberties ;

iii.-	more generally abide by the provisions of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the regional and international
instruments on human rights which are binding on the Democratic
Republic of Congo and guarantee the freedom of action of human rights

Addresses :

Monsieur le Président Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Présidence de la
République, Kinshasa-Ngaliema, République Démocratique du Congo. Fax
(+ 243) 880 02 120

Monsieur Mwenze Kongolo, Ministre de la Justice, Ministère de la
Justice, BP 3137, Kinshasa Gombé, République Démocratique du Congo.

Monsieur Gaetan Kakudji, Ministre de l'Intérier, Ministère de
l'Intérieur, Hôtel du Conseil exécutif, Kinshasa - Gombé, République
Démocratique du Congo.

The Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in your country.

Geneva - Paris, 12th May 1998

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The Human Rights Action Network, a part of Derechos Human Rights, distributes appeals on behalf of victims of human rights violations. You are invited to join the network. Please check the date of the present action and do not write if it's over a month old.