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Thursday, 17 June 2010 - Strasbourg
Democratic Republic of Congo: the case of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire

European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2010 on the Democratic Republic of Congo: the case of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),

–  having regard to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in June 2000,

–  having regard to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly resolution of 22 November 2007 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular in the east, and its impact on the region,

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005 on the 2005 World Summit Outcome, and in particular paragraphs 138 to 140 thereof on the responsibility to protect populations,

–  having regard to the statement by a spokesperson for Vice-President of the Commission/ High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on 3 June 2010 on the brutal death of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire,

–  having regard to the 2004 EU guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders and the local strategy for implementation of the guidelines for the DRC, adopted by the Heads of Mission on 20 March 2010,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 1856 (2008) on MONUC's mandate,

–  having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, the executive director of human rights organisation La Voix des Sans Voix (VSV), was found dead in his car in Kinshasa on Wednesday, 2 June 2010 after having been summoned by the police,

B.  whereas, according to media reports, on the afternoon of Tuesday, 1 June 2010, Mr Chebeya Bahizire received a phone call from the central police station requesting him to attend a meeting with DRC chief of police Inspector General John Numbi Banza Tambo; whereas, on arrival at the police station, Mr Chebeya Bahizire could not contact the Inspector General and informed his family, in a text message, that he was returning to the city,

C.  whereas Mr Chebeya Bahizire's work in the defence of democracy and human rights in the DRC since the 1990s – on issues including corruption in the military, links between militias and foreign political forces, upholding of the constitution, illegal arrests, arbitrary detention and the improvement of prison conditions – earned him the respect and admiration of his compatriots and of the international community,

D.  whereas Fidèle Bazana Edadi, Mr Chebeya Bahizire's driver, is still missing,

E.  whereas Mr Chebeya Bahizire's family was not authorised to have full access to his body and there are contradictory statements regarding the condition of the body when it was found,

F.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, said the circumstances of the killing ‘strongly suggest official responsibility’,

G.  whereas Inspector General Numbi Banza Tambo was suspended until further notice and three other police officers were also arrested in connection with the killing; whereas deputy police chief Colonel Daniel Mukalayi has reportedly confessed to killing Mr Chebeya Bahizire on the order of his superior, General Numbi Banza Tambo,

H.  whereas Mr Chebeya Bahizire had told Amnesty International on several occasions that he felt he had been followed and that he was under surveillance by the security services,

I.  whereas Vice-President of the Commission/ High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston and Alan Dos, Head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in the DRC, have all issued statements condemning the murder of Mr Chebeya Bahizire and have called for an independent investigation,

J.  whereas the killing is part of a growing trend of intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists, political opponents, victims and witnesses in the DRC; whereas numerous journalists and human rights activists have been killed in suspicious circumstances in the DRC in the past five years,

K.  whereas many NGOs had observed increased oppression of human rights defenders in the DRC in the past year, including illegal arrests, prosecutions, telephone threats and repeated summoning to the offices of the intelligence services,

L.  whereas inquiries into the killings of human rights defender Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi in 2005 and of journalists, including Franck Ngycke Kangundu and his wife, Hélène Mpaka, in November 2005, Serge Maheshe in June 2007, and Didace Namujimbo in November 2008, were led by the Congolese military authorities and were characterised by serious irregularities,

M.  whereas, in regard to the April 2008 International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda for war crimes including enlisting child soldiers, the DRC, as a party to the Rome Statute, is in breach of its legal obligations to cooperate with the ICC, inter alia by apprehending persons under arrest warrant; whereas, instead, the DRC has promoted Bosco Ntaganda to a top position in the Congolese army, thus heightening the impression that there is impunity for human rights violations and thereby contributing to the increasing incidence of such crimes,

N.  whereas a state of civil war has prevailed for years in certain parts of the DRC, resulting in massacres, mass rape and the widespread enlisting of child soldiers,

O.  whereas the massacres, particularly those perpetrated by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a paramilitary group which originated in Uganda, currently affect all the countries bordering on the DRC,

P.  whereas NGO staff are also affected by these forms of persecution of civilian populations and this has resulted in a contraction of humanitarian aid in the DRC,

Q.  whereas the 50th anniversary of the DRC's independence is to be celebrated shortly and whereas human rights and democracy are crucial to the development of the country,

1.  Forcefully condemns the killing of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and the fact that Fidèle Bazana Edadi, Mr Chebeya Bahizire's driver, is missing; expresses its fullest support for their families;

2.  Calls for an independent, credible, thorough and transparent commission of inquiry to be set up to investigate the death of Mr Chebeya Bahizire and the whereabouts of Mr Bazana Edadi, and for steps to be taken to ensure that the families of both men are protected;

3.  Demands that those responsible be identified, brought before the courts and punished in accordance with Congolese law and international provisions for the protection of human rights;

4.  Welcomes the fact that the authorities responded to a request by Mr Chebeya Bahizire's family for an independent autopsy by inviting an expert Dutch forensics team, led by Dr Franklin Van de Groot, to determine the cause of death;

5.  Expresses its deep concern regarding the general degradation of the situation of human rights defenders in the DRC; calls on the DRC authorities to comply fully with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 and to implement the UN's 2009 Universal Periodic Review recommendations as measures to protect the rights of human rights defenders; stresses that punishing those responsible for the assassinations of human rights defenders and journalists in recent years is an essential element in the democratisation of the country;

6.  Condemns the ongoing oppression of human rights activists, journalists, political opponents, victims and witnesses in the DRC; calls on the Member States to ensure that they are protected and to provide logistical and technical support to that end in accordance with the guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders;

7.  Condemns the atrocities committed by the LRA and other armed groups in the DRC;

8.  Stresses the need to tackle corruption and bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights abuses within the Congolese armed and police forces, and underlines MONUC's crucial role in doing this through joint planning and implementation of operations and proper accountability mechanisms for abuses; in particular, urges the DRC to fulfil its international legal obligations and to arrest Bosco Ntaganda and transfer him to the ICC;

9.  Calls on all parties to step up the fight against impunity and to uphold the rule of law; calls on the Government of the DRC to ensure that those responsible for breaching human rights and international humanitarian law are held to account and that it cooperates fully with the ICC;

10.  Underlines the fact that the EU and the DRC are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, which includes explicit reference to the responsibilities of all the parties with regard to human rights, democracy and the rule of law; calls for particular attention to be paid to these matters in the context of evaluation of the Agreement;

11.  Calls on the Government of the DRC, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the country's independence, resolutely to commit itself to promoting political practice that upholds human rights and strengthens the rule of law;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/ High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the institutions of the African Union, the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations Human Rights Council and the governments and parliaments of the Great Lakes region.

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