Another human rights defender killed in the Congo


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KAIROS is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire earlier this week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Floribert was the executive director of La Voix des Sans-Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), one of the DRC’s most important human rights organizations. He was found dead in his car on Wednesday, June 2nd.

KAIROS is increasingly concerned by the worsening intimidation against Congolese human rights defenders, and the ongoing impunity for crimes committed against them.

The death of Floribert brings to mind the death of Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi in 2005, another leading human rights defender and former executive secretary of KAIROS partner organization in the DRC, Héritiers de la justice. No one has ever been found guilty of Pascal’s death.

As with the killing of Pascal, there are rumours of official Congolese involvement in the death of Floribert.

According to sources, on Monday Floribert had been requested to visit the the office of the inspector general of the national police, Gen. John Numbi. Floribert left his office at 5 p.m. to attend the meeting. A few hours later he contacted his family and said he was still waiting at the police inspectorate. By 9 p.m. all communication stopped.

Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston said the circumstances of the death “strongly suggested official responsibility”.

Over the years, Floribert had been threatened and intimidated repeatedly by Congolese authorities as a result of his work. In recent weeks, he reported that he believed he was under surveillance again by  security services.

He was among Congo’s most vocal human rights defenders, regularly exposing abuses by the country’s security services and the government over many years.

KAIROS joins governments, churches, and NGOs around the world demanding a commission of inquiry into Floribert’s death which includes both Congolese and UN officials, as well as  representatives from the Congolese human rights community.

Other statements and actions:

Congolese Forum of Humanitarian and Development Organizations (français)

World Council of Churches (English)

Amnesty International:
English
français

Human Rights Watch
English
français

For more information, contact John Lewis, Program Coordinator for International Human Rights, at jlewis@kairoscanada.org or 1 877 403 8933 ext. 224.

(Please note that KAIROS is not responsible for the content of external links.)

 


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