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[Press Release] Human rights defenders intimidated in RDC

July 2013

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Paris and Kinshasa, 2 July 2013 - The International Federation of ACAT (FIACAT) and ACT RDC are seriously concerned by the intimidation of human rights defenders in RDC, in particular the Secretary-General of ACAT RDC, the lawyer Michel KALEMBA NGALAMULUME.

Michel KALEMBA NGALAMULUME belongs to a group of three lawyers defending Chief Brigadier BAYADA ABURO, who was arrested on 2 February 2011 in Kinshasa, apparently tortured at the ANR (Intelligence Service) and subsequently brought before a judge on the grounds that he had taken an active part in the movement which attacked the logistical base of Kokolo camp and the Ndolo air base.

At 4.27 p.m. on 28 June 2013, as Michel KALEMBA NGALAMULUME was returning from the hearing held at Makala Central Prison, where the Gombe Military Court was sitting in the case which opposes the Public Ministry and Mr Kalemba’s client, Chief Brigadier BAYADA ABURO, he received an SMS containing the following death threat: «You will not get away today because we know where you live and where your mother lives. You are working zealously on the ABURO case and you have us in your sights but we will slaughter you like a cow and no-one will save you today » (tel. : 24389614165). » On 30 June at 9 a.m., Mr Kalemba’s wife also received an SMS, from the same telephone number, which is the number of a call platform that cannot be contacted. The SMS warned her of the danger her husband would be in if he continued to defend his client.

ACAT RDC immediately referred the matter to the Kinshasa bar and alerted MONUSCO.

For FIACAT, civil society has a crucial role to play in the transition to a state based on the rule of law in which each individual’s rights are respected and where there is no place for impunity. The rights of the defence are fundamental rights in any such state. Congolese civil society must be able to function freely in order to be a driving force in this transition.

FIACAT and ACAT RDC recall that on 9 December 1998 the Democratic Republic of Congo adopted the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Article 12(2) of which states that « The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration. »

FIACAT and ACAT RDC therefore demand that the Congolese authorities take all necessary measures to guarantee, under all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders and in particular of Mr Michel KALEMBA NGALAMULUME and put an end to all forms of threat and intimidation.

Press contact:
- Sabrina Brignier: +331 42 80 01 60 – saa@fiacat.org

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