Democratic Republic of Congo: Release arbitrarily detained human rights defender

17.11.2014

The Democratic Republic of Congo should immediately and unconditionally release Congolese human rights defender Boniface Umpula Nyembo following his arbitrary detention on 10 November, ISHR and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre said today.

(Update - 18 November 2014) - ISHR welcomes the news that  Congolese human rights defender Boniface Umpula Nyembo was released on bail by a court in Lubumbashi late on 17 November 2014. ISHR reiterates its call, however, for the charges against Mr Umpula Nyembo to be withdrawn and for authorities in the DRC to fully respect and protect exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and protest.

 

(Geneva) - The Democratic Republic of Congo should immediately and unconditionally release Congolese human rights defender Boniface Umpula Nyembo following his arbitrary detention on 10 November, ISHR and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre said today.

Mr Umpula Nyembo, who works with the leading Congolese human rights NGO, Action contre l’impunité pour les Droits Humains (ACIDH), was arrested in Lubumbashi on 10 November 2014, placed in preventive detention and charged with 'incitement to civil disobedience' and 'disseminating false rumours'.

ACIDH works to promote and protect human rights and combat impunity for human rights violations perpetrated by both State and non-State actors, including corporations. It also works to promote transparency as to the human rights impacts of business, particularly the extractive industries.

According to Congolese NGOs, Mr Umpula Nyembo was arrested in connection with his distribution of a press release in the Courthouse (Palais de Justice). The release reportedly called for members of the judiciary to strike in connection with the government's underfunding of the judiciary, a matter which both international NGOs, such as the International Bar Association, and regional level NGOs, such as DRC-based African Resources Watch, say contributes to denial and delay of access to justice, including for victims of human rights violations.

In a joint letter (also available in French) to the President of the DRC and other relevant ministers and office holders, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and ISHR called on authorities in the DRC to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Umpula Nyembo and to ensure respect for the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which relevantly guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, together with the right to be protected from 'any violence, threats, retaliation,…pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration'.

A decision as to whether Mr Umpula Nyembo should be released on bail was due on 17 November 2014.

Contact: Michael Ineichen, Program Manager (Human Rights Defenders and Corporate Accountability), ISHR, at m.ineichen@ishr.ch

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Corporate accountability
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Reprisals and intimidation
Country
  • Congo (Kinshasa)