Posted 2010/6/3

DRC: Presumed assassination of human rights defender Mr Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, executive director of “La Voix des Sans-Voix”

Front Line is extremely concerned following the presumed assassination of human rights defender Mr Floribert Chebaya Bahizire. According to police sources, the body of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was found in the back of his car on the morning of 2 June 2010 in the outskirts of Kinshasa, after his disappearance had been reported on the evening of 1 June 2010.

Further Information

Mr Chebeya Bahizire's driver, Mr Fidèle Bazana Edadi, also a member of the association La Voix des Sans-Voix - VSV (The Voice of the Voiceless), disappeared and according to certain sources, his body was found on 3 June 2010.

Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was the executive director of the VSV and the executive secretary of the Réseau national des ONG des droits de l’Homme de la RDC - RENADHOC (National Network of Human Rights NGOs of the DRC), based in Kinshasa. An eminent human rights defender subjected to repeated threats over many years, Floribert Chebeya Bahizire had participated in the first Dublin Platform for human rights defenders in January 2002.

On the afternoon of Tuesday 1 June 2010, Floribert Chebeya Bahizire received a call from the central police headquarters, requiring him to attend a meeting with the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police, Mr John Numbi Banza Tambo. No reason was given for the meeting. Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was not able to meet the inspector, and just before 8pm he informed his family by SMS that he was returning to the city.

His body was found the following morning, Wednesday 2 June, in his abandoned car in the outskirts of Kinshasa. According to police sources, his body showed no signs of violence. However, the deputy executive director of VSV was not allowed to view the body on 2 June. Fidèle Bazana Edadi, who disappeared on 1 June at the same time as Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, has disappeared and, according to information received, his body was found on Thursday 3 June, which would confirm that both human rights defenders were assassinated.

Front Line believes that the presumed assassination of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and the disappearance of Fidèle Bazana Edadi are a direct result of their legitimate work in defence of human rights in the DRC. Front Line is also gravely concerned for the security of the families of said defenders and other members of the VSV, considering the climate which has become extremely dangerous for human rights defenders in the DRC.

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