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Disappearances in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Of grave concern in this area are the "disappearances" and other human rights violations to which hundreds of refugees returning to Brazzaville were subjected since 1992. There is concern than the Congolese authorities have not taken adequate measures to established responsibility for these crimes. The government has failed in its international obligation to protect the fundamental rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, especially those from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As many as 353 refugees returning to Brazzaville from the DRC in May 1999 "disappeared" after they were arrested and taken by members of the security forces to secret destinations by the authorities of the Republic of Congo. Relatives of many others who "disappeared" have opted not to divulge any information for fear of reprisals. According to testimonies gathered from survivors, the victims' relatives and local human rights groups, it is widely believed in the country that the victims were extra-judicially executed and their bodies secretly disposed of.
The official position of the government has remained that no refugees and returnees were arrested or "disappeared". However, amidst sustained pressure from relatives of the victims and human rights organizations, in late 2001 the government set up a parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate "disappearances" that have occurred in the country since 1992.
Furthermore, government forces and members of the Ninja armed political group have deliberately targeted unarmed civilians, killing dozens and displacing thousands. The judiciary has failed to protect Congolese citizens from arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions and torture which has resulted in the death for some victims.

AI INDEX: AFR 22/001/2003 9 April 2003

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