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Congo: Activist Held in Kinshasa

Human Rights Watch Letter

At a moment when the DRC is preparing a promising conference on human rights, Human Rights Watch writes to you to express its concern about the arrest of M. N'sii Luanda, President of the Committee of human rights monitors(CODHO).

M. Luanda was arrested on 2 June 2001, taken to the Military Detection of anti-patriotic activities (militaire des activités anti-patrie, DEMIAP), and held there during one day, although the DEMIAP detention center was supposed to be officially closed. He was rearrested on 5 June 2001 and taken to the lock up of the National Security Agency (Agence Nationale des renseignements, ANR). One week after he was transferred to the central prison of Makala where he is detained together with people suspected of involvement in the assassination of President Laurent Desire Kabila. He is allegedly accused of receiving calls on his mobile phone from Europe and Kivu, allegedly from numbers of government opponents. He is detained without official charge. He does not have access to a lawyer.

We are also concerned about the recent detention without charge of Robert Ilunga Numbi, President of the Friends of Nelson Mandela. M. Ilunga was arrested 15 June 2001 and detained without charge for five days at the ANR. He was released on 20 June. He was accused of having contacts with people from his home province, Province Orientale, and in particular with people in Kisangani.

We are concerned about these arrests that are not consistent with principles of the rule of law and seem arbitrary.

Mr President, we ask you to ensure that the authorities allow Mr Luanda to be visited by family members, and a doctor and lawyer of his choice. If there are no charges against him, he should be immediately and unconditionally released. Otherwise he should be charged with a crime that is recognizable under the law and have a transparent and fair trial by a court with competent jurisdiction, before which he would have a right to defend himself or to be defended by a lawyer of his choice.

We hope that you will take steps to fully implement your announced policy to restore the rule of law, and specifically restrain state officials from targeting human rights activists who simply work for the mandate of their organization. Also, we hope that your government will respect the rights of human rights monitors as laid down in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Declaration states in its Article 1: "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels."

Yours sincerely,

Suliman Ali Baldo
Senior Researcher

Cc: M. Antoine Deogratias Ngele Masudi
Didier Kazadi Nyembwe
Professor Ntumba Luaba

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