Verdict Chebeya case : the Congolese justice at a crossroad

Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)Human rights defendersNews

Brussels, 24 June 2011 – For Avocats Sans Frontières, that represents the brothers and sisters of the human rights activist Floribert Chebeya, the verdict reached by the Congolese Military Court on 23 June 2011 brings only few answers to the circumstances of the murder of Chebeya on 1 June 2010 and the disappearance of his driver Fidèle Bazana. Key elements such as the real cause of death and the responsibilities of all persons involved in this case remain unclear.

Thus three suspects are still at large. All victims are now impatiently waiting the appeal stage of the trial in the hope that this will complement crucial answers in the search for the truth.

Although the Congolese justice gave all parties involved the opportunity to express their views, the verdict is disappointing for all those who fight for the abolishment of death penalty in Congo. As a reminder, the new Congolese Constitution (dating 2005) has removed all reference to the death penalty and several international conventions, of which Congo is part, actually prohibit the death penalty.

Note : ASF is an international NGO located in Brussels. It has a permanent mission in Congo for the past ten years ; its actions serve mainly to improve the rights of victims of international crimes, massive sexual violence and torture. ASF sets up programmes to give the most vulnerable access to justice. Concerning the Chebeya case, ASF is coordinating the legal representation of the brothers and sisters of the deceased activist through two Congolese lawyers.

Also look at our mission in Congo.