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