NOVEMBER 16, 2016 12:36PM EST
DR Congo: Political Prisoners in Detention
Updated November 16, 2016
The following individuals were arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since early 2015. Most had spoken out against attempts to extend President Joseph Kabila’s term in office or participated in peaceful demonstrations or political activities. Others were suspected of having links with political opposition leaders. These individuals are all still in custody.
Detained in Kinshasa:
Jean-Claude Muyambo: president of the political party Congolese Solidarity for Democracy and Development (Solidarité congolaise pour la démocratie et le développement, SCODE) and former president of the bar association of ex-Katanga province, arrested in Kinshasa on January 20, 2015 after having mobilized participation in demonstrations against proposed changes to the election laws. First held in Kinshasa’s central prison, he was subsequently transferred to a medical center for health reasons and is on trial for allegedly selling a building that did not belong to him.
The following seven people were arrested on August 7, 2016 in Kinshasa at the home of Norbert Luyeye, president of the opposition political party Union of Republicans (Union des Républicains, UR). On August 4, Luyeye had declared at his party headquarters that a legal vacuum would ensue if the National Independent Electoral Committee (CENI) failed to convoke election in September. He also announced a popular meeting in Kinshasa’s Ndjili neighborhood on September 4 to raise awareness among the population and prepare for the demonstrations scheduled to begin on September 19. They are all being held by the military intelligence services in Kinshasa without charge and without access to their families or a lawyer:
Norbert Luyeye: Union of Republicans, president;
Nsiala Bukaka: UR member;
Paul Yoka: UR member;
Nathan Lusela: UR member;
Lyongo: UR member;
Boba: visitor at the UR meeting;
Jean Paul: visitor at the UR meeting.
At least a dozen people were arrested on September 15 and 16, 2016 in Kinshasa and held incommunicado by the intelligence services after having participated in an awareness campaign organized by the Union of Congolese Youth for Change (Union des Jeunes Congolais pour le Changement, UJCC), a youth platform for debate and action focused on non-violence, peace and respect of the constitution. While the others were later released, the organization’s president remains in detention:
Totoro Mukenge: president of the UJCC, arrested at his home the day after the meeting, on September 16, 2016.
The following people were arrested just before or immediately after the Congolese Justice Minister announced on May 4, 2016, the start of an investigation into Moïse Katumbi, the former Katanga governor and an opposition leader and presidential candidate, for having allegedly “recruited mercenaries [including] several American ex-servicemen.” These allegations appear to have been politically motivated and no credible proof has been presented to date. These individuals have all been accused of maintaining links with Katumbi or being involved in the alleged recruiting of mercenaries, and have been charged with endangering state security:
Yannick Kibinga: an associate of Katumbi, arrested on April 24, 2016 in Lubumbashi and transferred on April 25 to the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) in Kinshasa, where he was held by the intelligence agency before being transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 4;
Franck Mwashila: an associate of Katumbi, arrested on April 24, 2016 in Lubumbashi and transferred to the ANR in Kinshasa on April 25. Detained at Kinshasa’s central prison since June 4;
Sefu Idi: an associate of Katumbi, arrested on April 24, 2016 in Lubumbashi and transferred on April 25 to the ANR in Kinshasa. Detained at Kinshasa’s central prison since June 4;
Gédeon Butandu: a pastor, arrested on May 1, 2016 in Kolwezi, Lualaba province. Transferred to the ANR in Kinshasa on May 3, where he was held incommunicado by the intelligence services until being transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 4;
Fiston Malanga: a student, arrested on May 2, 2016 in Lubumbashi. Transferred to Kinshasa on May 3, where he was held incommunicado by the intelligence services until being transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 4;
Aaron Ngwashi: an officer of the Congolese National Police (PNC) seconded to Katumbi’s security service when he was governor of Katanga province. Arrested in Lubumbashi on May 4, 2016 and detained by the ANR in Lubumbashi before being transferred to the military prosecutor’s office and then the Lubumbashi central prison. He was sent to the ANR in Kinshasa on May 29, where he was held incommunicado before being transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 13;
Augustin Kabamba: a police officer seconded to Katumbi’s security service when he was governor of Katanga province, arrested in Lubumbashi on May 4, 2016. He was detained by the ANR in Lubumbashi before being transferred to the military prosecutor’s office and then the Lubumbashi central prison where he was prosecuted for forgery. He was sent to the ANR in Kinshasa on May 29, held incommunicado and subsequently transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 13;
Bruno Vumbi: a police officer arrested in Lubumbashi on May 4, 2016. He was detained by the ANR in Lubumbashi before being transferred to the military prosecutor’s office and then the Lubumbashi central prison where he was prosecuted for forgery. On May 29, he was sent to the ANR in Kinshasa where he was held incommunicado. He was subsequently sent to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 13;
Ndol Tshamundj: an army officer, on duty in Katumbi’s home village, arrested in Lubumbashi on May 8, 2016 and transferred to Kinshasa on May 29, where he was held incommunicado by the ANR. He has been detained in Kinshasa’s central prison since June 13;
Gabriel Tambwe: member of a Congolese non-governmental organization, arrested on May 13, 2016 in Kinshasa. Held incommunicado by the ANR before being transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 4;
Philippe Namputu: a teacher and a member of a Congolese non-governmental organization, arrested on May 14, 2016 in Kinshasa. Held incommunicado by the ANR before being transferred to Kinshasa’s central prison on June 4.
The following individuals, members of the opposition party National Union of Congolese Federalists (Union Nationale des Fédéralistes du Congo, UNAFEC), were arrested in Lubumbashi on July 16, 2016. Initially held by intelligence services in Lubumbashi, they were transferred on August 9 to the intelligence services in Kinshasa where they are still held incommunicado, without charges and without access to their families or to a lawyer:
The following people were arrested in the context of protests organized the week of September 19 against the electoral commission’s failure to convoke presidential elections three months before the end of President Kabila’s mandate, as called for by the constitution:
Moïse Moni Della: President of the opposition party Nature Conservationists and Democrats (CONADE), arrested in the morning of September 19, 2016, as he was going to the demonstrations. Soldiers beat him as they arrested him. He was later accused of having incited acts of pillage. He remains in prison and his trial is ongoing;
Bruno Tshibala: Deputy Secretary-General of one of the leading opposition parties Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) and spokesperson of the opposition coalition Rassemblement. Immigration officials arrested him at Kinshasa’s international airport when he was attempting to board a plan for Brussels on October 9, 2016. He remains in prison and has been accused of plotting to commit a massacre and acts of pillage and destruction, charges that appear politically motivated. His trial is ongoing.
Detained in Lubumbashi:
Huit Mulongo: former chief of staff of Moïse Katumbi, and one of the leaders of the Front Citoyen 2016, a coalition of parties and groups calling on President Kabila to step down at the end of his constitutionally mandated two term limit. Arrested during the night of April 22, 2016 at his home by policemen who searched his home and found a revolver in his jeep, which Mulongo said he had registered, and leaflets in his home about the Front Citoyen and the G7 (a platform of seven political parties sacked from the majority coalition of President Kabila in September 2015 after having publicly urged him to hold the presidential election as scheduled and support a successor). He was then taken to the ANR and transferred the next day to the military prosecutor’s office. He is currently being held at Kassapa prison in Lubumbashi, where his state of health is deteriorating. On August 30, the military court sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of 250,000 Congolese francs (USD 250) for illegally carrying a firearm. He has filed an appeal.
Ngongo Kasongo: a member of the National Union of Congolese Federalists (Union Nationale des Fédéralistes du Congo, UNAFEC), arrested on July 18, 2016 at his home in Lubumbashi, together with another member of the same party, Jules Kikungulu. They were then both transferred to the ANR. Tried for rebellion, Kikungulu was acquitted while Kasongo was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He has filed an appeal. He is currently being held in Lubumbashi central prison.
Detained in Goma:
Six activists of the youth movement Struggle for Change (LUCHA) were arrested on October 24, 2016 in Goma while mobilizing students of a local university to participate in demonstrations and a general strike (or “ville morte”) planned for October 26 and 27. Three of them were released on October 29 while the three others were transferred to the central prison in Goma. During a press conference on October 30, a police spokesperson said they had “attempted disruption of public order.” They remain in detention:
Region / Country
Democratic Republic of Congo
Source: Human Wrights Watch