DRC: Break-in at Dismas Kitenge’s home, threats and intimidation

Aboodi Vesakaran via Unsplash

COD 001 / 0423 / OBS 019
Attacks / Threats /
Democratic Republic of the Congo
5 April 2023

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your intervention in the following situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Description of the situation:

The Observatory was informed of the home intrusion, threats and intimidation against Mr. Dismas Kitenge, president of the Lotus Group, a non-governmental organisation based in Kisangani and member of FIDH and OMCT SOS-Torture Network, which denounces human rights violations, alerts public opinion and investigates the practices of the authorities to force them to respect the rule of law. Lotus Group also supports victims of discrimination and oppression because of their social, national or religious group, or their political opinion, and informs, teaches and promotes the human rights values and democratic principles to promote them in DRC.

On the night of March 28, 2023, unidentified armed individuals wearing balaclavas and military uniforms attacked the home of Dismas Kitenge in Kisangani, where family members were present at the time. The individuals broke into Mr Kitenge’s home, after shooting at the door with firearms. They searched several rooms in the house for Mr. Kitenge, to no avail, before seizing valuables including two televisions, an amplifier, two phones and cash. As they left the premises, the individuals fired into the field in front of the house, threatening to return soon. Following this intrusion, Dismas Kitenge lodged a complaint against the unknown with the office of the Superior Auditor of the Military Court of Tshopo and Uélés, but no investigation had been opened at the time of publishing this urgent appeal.

This intrusion comes after an interview Mr. Kitenge gave to the media RFI and actualité.cd on March 25, 2023, regarding the appointment of the new Congolese government. Following this interview, Mr. Kitenge received death threats through anonymous phone calls, and was attacked and threatened with death in the street on 26 March 2023 by a group of young people claiming to belong to the political party of Jean-Pierre Mbemba, the new Congolese Minister of Defence.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time that Dismas Kitenge has been subjected to threats and intimidation. In September 2020, Mr. Kitenge and his family were subjected to death threats and insults via anonymous phone calls because of Mr. Kitenge’s positions against the DRC authorities and public figures. As a result of these threats, Mr. Kitenge filed a complaint against unknown persons with the Public Prosecutor of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Kisangani, requesting to identify and prosecute the perpetrator of the threats as well as to provide protection for him and his family. In October 2020, Mr. Kitenge and his family were granted temporary relocation measures. However, at the time of this Urgent Appeal, no action had been taken on the complaint filed by Mr. Kitenge. In January 2022, Dismas Kitenge was again subjected to various malicious acts, including anonymous threats, insults and intimidation, following publications on social networks.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the new attacks, threats and acts of intimidation against Dismas Kitenge and his family, which seem to be aimed at dissuading him from exercising his legitimate human rights activities and his right to freedom of expression.

The Observatory urges the Congolese authorities to put an end to these acts of threats and intimidation, to conduct an independent, rigorous, impartial and transparent investigation in order to identify those responsible and to bring them before an independent, competent and impartial tribunal. The Observatory also calls on the Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure Mr. Dismas Kitenge and his family’s safety.

Actions requested :

Please write to the Congolese authorities and urge them to:

 Guarantee in all circumstances the safety, physical integrity and psychological well-being of Dismas Kitenge and his family, as well as all human rights defenders in the DRC, and ensure that they can carry out their legitimate activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;

 Conduct an independent, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the break-in, threats and intimidation of Dismas Kitenge in order to identify those responsible and bring them before an independent, competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments;

 Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of expression in the country, as enshrined in international human rights law, and in particular in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


• S.E. Mr. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Email: cabinet@presidentrdc.cd, Twitter: @Presidency_RDC;
• Mr. Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, Prime Minister of the DRC, Email: cabinet@primature.cd, Twitter: @PrimatureRDC;
• Ms. Rose Mutombo Kiese, Minister of Justice of the DRC, E-mail: minjustdh@gmail.com, info@justice.gouv.cd ;
• Mr. Fabrice Puela, Minister of Human Rights of the DRC, Email: min-droitshumains@yahoo.fr, contactmindroitshumainsrdc@gmail.com, Twitter: @droitshumains_M, @fabricepuela;
• Mr. Firmin Mvonde Mambu, Attorney General at the Court of Cassation of the DRC, Email: pgr_rdc@yahoo.fr, pgr_rdcongo15@yahoo.com ;
• National Human Rights Commission of the DRC, Email: communication.cndhrdc@gmail.com ;
• Mr. Paul Empole Losoko Efambe, Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United Nations, Geneva, Email: drcgeneva15@gmail.com, missionrdc@bluewin.ch
• Mr. Christian Ndongala Nkuku, Ambassador, Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: secretariat@ambardc.eu, info@ambardc.be.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Democratic Republic of Congo in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, April 5, 2023

Please inform the Observatory of any action taken by indicating the code of this appeal.

The Observatory, a partnership between FIDH and OMCT, aims to protect human rights defenders who are victims of violations and to provide them with the most concrete assistance possible. FIDH and OMCT are members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union mechanism for human rights defenders implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the hotline
 E-mail: alert@observatoryfordefenders.org
 Tel FIDH: +33 1 43 55 25 18
 Tel OMCT: + 41 79 539 41 06

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