Take Action for 7 HRDs from Filimbi
On 29 and 30 December 2017, seven human rights defenders affiliated with the civil society movement Filimbi were arrested and detained and the whereabouts of another, Palmer Kabeya, are unknown.
Carbone Beni is in charge of Filimbi's network, Mino Bompomi is the coordinator in Kinshasa, Palmer Kabeya is a member of the coordination team in Kinshasa, and Roger Katanga Mwenyemali, Bony Dickson Mputu, Grâce Tshiunza, Cedrick Kalonji and Arciel Beni are members of Filimbi. Filimbi is a pro-democracy and civil society movement which advocates against poor governance and human rights abuses and for respect for the constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Filimbi promotes the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly as well as freedom of thought, working specifically with youth. The movement organises peaceful protests including sit-ins, demonstrations, debates and press conferences.
On 29 December 2017, human rights defender Roger Katanga Mwenyemali was arrested, in the absence of an arrest warrant, while informing the public about the peaceful protest which was organised by Catholics for 31 December 2017. They demanded that President Kabila step down in line with constitutional term limits as his mandate ended in 2016. The human rights defender was taken to a police station in Kindu and charged with breaching national security. On 2 January 2018, Roger Katanga Mwenyemali appeared before a judge and was subsequently transferred to the general prison in Kindu.
On 30 December 2017, Carbone Beni, Mino Bompomi, Bony Dickson Mputu, Grâce Tshiunza, Cedrick Kalonji and Arciel Beni were arrested without presentation of an arrest warrant while informing the public in the commune of N’Djili about the upcoming peaceful protest.
On 31 December, Arciel Beni was released while the others remain in detention.
On 2 January 2018, the remaining five human rights defenders were transferred to the custody of the Agence National de Renseignement – ANR (National Intelligence Agency), but their exact location is unknown. At this time, members of Filimbi also became aware that the whereabouts of another of their members, Palmer Kabeya, are unknown; his colleagues fear that he may have been arrested and taken into detention at an undisclosed location.
This incident is part of a larger pattern of targeted action and harassment of youth-led civil society movements in the DRC. On 19 December 2017, another member of Filimbi, Sony Ndjeka Olela was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest and remains in detention at the office of the ANR. On 28 November 2017, human rights defender Ghislain Muhiwa was arrested and detained along with twenty-one others for seven days for participating in a peaceful demonstration. On 30 September 2017, thirty-three members of LUCHA were arrested during a peaceful demonstration and detained for five days until 3 October 2017. On 19 September 2017, eleven human rights defenders affiliated with Filimbi were arrested while planning a peaceful demonstration and were detained for four days. On 24 October 2016, fourteen members of LUCHA were arrested for mobilising students to participate in peaceful demonstrations organised throughout the DRC and were detained for two days. Another LUCHA activist, Nicolas Mbiya, was arrested on 14 July 2017 and detained until 29 September 2017.
I condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of Carbone Beni, Mino Bompomi, Roger Katanga Mwenyemali, Bony Dickson Mputu, Grâce Tshiunza, Cedrick Kalonji and Arciel Beni, as well as the disappearance of Palmer Kabeya, as it believes they have been targeted for the legitimate exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
I urge the authorities in the DRC to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release Carbone Beni, Mino Bompomi, Roger Katanga Mwenyemali, Bony Dickson Mputu, Grâce Tshiunza, Cedrick Kalonji and Sony Ndjeka Olela as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;
2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of human rights defender Palmer Kabeya, with a view to ensuring his protection and release, publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
3. Ensure that the treatment of Carbone Beni, Mino Bompomi, Roger Katanga Mwenyemali, Bony Dickson Mputu, Grâce Tshiunza, Cedrick Kalonji and Sony Ndjeka Olela while in detention adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;
4. Cease targeting all human rights defenders in the DRC and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.