DRC: One step closer to reopening the Chebeya case?

(Geneva, Kinshasa, Nairobi, Paris) – New elements in the Chebeya case have just been reported by Radio France International (RFI) indicating responsibility for the murders of the human rights defender and his driver, Fidèle Bazana, more than a decade after the fact. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT), the League of Voters (Ligue des Électeurs), the Lotus Group (Groupe Lotus), the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights (ASADHO, l’Association africaine pour la défense des droits de l’Homme), and the Voice of the Voiceless for Human Rights (VSV, La Voix des Sans-Voix), call for the Chebeya case to be reopened.

New information on the circumstances of the assassination of human rights defender Floribert Chebeya and his driver, Fidèle Bazana, on 1 June 2010 in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has just been revealed by RFI, which received it from police sources in exile.

Hergile Ilunga wa Ilunga, who was, at the time of the events, a police warrant officer reporting to Colonel Daniel Mukalay, and Alain Kayeye Longwa, the driver for Major Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga, now in exile, appear to be the two perpetrators of the double murder. They explained how Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana were killed by a team of police officers set up by the high-ranking officers of the General Inspectorate of the Congolese National Police (PNC) in Kinshasa, Daniel Mukalay and Christian Ngoy, on the orders of General John Numbi, then Inspector General of the PNC, who was under the protection of then-President Joseph Kabila, thus confirming statements already made by key witness Paul Mwilambwe to RFI in 2012.

Hergile Ilunga wa Ilunga and Alain Kayeye Longwa allegedly participated in the extrajudicial execution of the two activists by transporting the bodies and staging their deaths. Their statements reveal a key element of the case, which had remained hidden until now: the assassination and the location of the body of Fidèle Bazana, who has been deemed missing for 10 years. The body, according to their statements, is buried on the plot of land belonging to Colonel Djadjidja, head of the military police at the time.

After the arrest of Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga last September in Lubumbashi, the two perpetrators fled the country, fearing that those who ordered the killing would sacrifice them. They now live in exile and say they are ready to appear before the Congolese justice system if their safety is assured.

Following the release by RFI of new information in the Chebeya case, the Observatory, the League of Voters, the Lotus Group, ASADHO, and VSV call on the Congolese authorities to reopen the case so that the truth can be established and justice can finally be done, allowing those at the highest levels of responsibility – who have so far been spared by the Congolese justice system – to be apprehended. The safety of new witnesses who could also be prosecuted will have to be guaranteed by the Congolese authorities, and evidence must be preserved.

"It is high time that justice be done in this matter, that the truth be known. The president of DRC has shown his commitment in this regard. The reopening of the trial is inevitable."

Paul Nsapu, vice president of FIDH and president of the League of Voters

"These revelations testify to the role played by the Congolese authorities in the assassinations of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana and remind us once again of the urgency that justice must finally be done for them. Democracy and the rule of law can no longer wait. It is imperative that the Congolese State finally put an end to impunity and protect human rights defenders.

Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General

More information on the case can be found here.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

The League of Voters (LE), established in 1990, aims to support democratic development, particularly through the defence of human rights and the promotion of an electoral culture. The League carries out training activities for members of civil society associations as leaders of the democratic movement, popular awareness-raising activities on human rights, and international election evaluation and observation missions.

The Lotus Group is a non-governmental organisation based in Kisangani. It denounces human rights violations, informs the public, and investigates the practices of the authorities to oblige those in power to respect the rule of law. It supports those who suffer discrimination and oppression because of their affiliation to a social, national or religious group or because of their political opinion. It informs, teaches and promotes the values of human rights and democratic principles to advance them in DRC.

ASADHO, created in 1991, seeks to defend, promote and safeguard individual and collective rights and freedoms; to respect the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary with a view to consolidating the rule of law – the basis of a democratic society; and to contribute to the deepening of human rights awareness.

Voice of the Voiceless (VSV), is a non-governmental human rights organisation founded in 1983 and based in Kinshasa. VSV is actively involved in efforts to reinvigorate civil society in order to increase the effectiveness of the pro-democracy movement for the development of the rule of law in DRC.

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