Amnesty International Wants DR Congo To Define Plan To End State Of Siege

Amnesty International makes recommendations in its report demanding that the DR Congo Government revoke all powers accorded to military tribunals to try civilians and to define a plan to end the state of siege in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

Amnesty International, has called on President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo to immediately revoke all powers accorded to military tribunals to try civilians, and to define a plan to end the state of siege in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

The call was made during the presentation of a report titled: “DR Congo – Justice and Liberties in a State of Siege in North Kivu and Ituri” early this week.

For Amnesty International, the state of siege has not succeeded in attaining the declared objective of quickly ameliorating the security situation in the two restive provinces.

It affirmed that the military authorities placed over the civilians have on the contrary, utilised their exceptional powers with all impunity, to abuse the rights of persons and the rights to freedom of expression and assembly as well as the rights to justice.

“To President Felix Tshisekedi, we explicitly demand that: “He immediately revokes all the powers accorded to military tribunals to judge civilians within the context of the state of siege;

“He defines a clear plan to end the state of siege which should remain a temporary exceptional regime that responds to legal exigencies of necessity and proportionality such as defined by international norms and to ensure that all the new measures aimed at resolving the armed conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo be taken and put in place in full conformity with international norms in the field of human rights.” 

The human rights organisation also called on the DR Congo government to free all persons arbitrarily detained in North Kivu and Ituri and to urgently take concrete measures to ameliorate detention conditions in conformity with international norms, notably in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.

The government was also called upon to “carry out profound, independent, transparent and efficacious investigations on all human rights abuses committed during the state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri, including the murders of Cabral Yombo and Mumbere Ushindi, two human rights activists and ensure that the authors of these acts answer for their crimes.”

AI asked the government to give  access to justice and reparations to all victims of human rights abuses during the state of siege and reinforce the ordinary judicial system, notably in North Kivu and Ituri by augmenting the number of tribunals and state counsel and judges and furnishing them with the financial resources and logistics necessary to satisfactorily carry out their missions.

Amnesty International said the DR Congo government should  identify in concert with the populations concerned, appropriate and respectable mechanisms of human rights in order to fight against violence and its consequences on fundamental human rights in a global and sustainable manner.

It added that the government must respond positively and without delay, to demands for visits put forward by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, so that the special rapporteur on the situation of defenders of human rights and the special rapporteur on the rights and freedoms to peaceful assembly and freedom of association can go to the two regions and do their work.

 Amnesty International also recommended that the DR Congo National Assembly and Senate should ensure that the state of siege remains an exceptional and temporary regime in conformity with international law and annex norms and to make sure the dispositions of the state of siege be guided by the necessities of the situation, compatible with other international obligations of the DR Congo and non-discriminatory.

It however, rejected, all new extensions of the state of siege, ensuring that all the measures restraining human rights are evaluated and modified if necessary, to be justified and proportionate to the objective of the state of siege, which would include the revocation of the competences accorded to military tribunals to try civilians.

“Adopt a law stating the modalities of application of the state of siege in conformity to Article 85 of the Constitution which guarantees the respect of the obligations of the DR Congo in the field of human rights by virtue of international law,” Amnesty International said. 

“Holds the government responsible for the justice rendered to victims of human rights abuses, including those committed by armed groups or by government forces within the context of the state of siege.”

To the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO), Amnesty International demanded that the DR Congo lifts all the unjustified derogations of human rights stipulated by the international pact related to civil and political rights, notably the restrictions to freedom of expression, association and assembly and to revoke all the powers accorded to military tribunals over civilians.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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