Concerned expressed over sentencing of activists in the DRC

March 4, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Byobe Malenga

Following the conviction of six LUCHA activists to two years in prison for “disobedience to authority” by the tribunal of the Grand Jury of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the defense team are now seeking an annulment of the verdict.

Meanwhile, the Crown requires the requalification of the facts, by reviewing the offences, which were not considered by the judge in the first degree.

It particularly refers to offences of association of the malefactors and undermining the security of the State.

The Dean of the lawyers of North Kivu, Joseph DuniaRuyenzi, does not find it to be a “reasonable” approach of the public prosecutor.

“This is not very reasonable for the Crown to appeal against a decision that imposed two years of penal servitude against members of civil society who have exercised the freedom of expression. Freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration have interest to serve as a guide for leaders so that they improve their governance. It is very reasonable to pay people who have exercised a fundamental freedom consistent with our constitution,” he said.

For their part, the Attorney general and the first president of the Court of appeal of North Kivu would not comment on this case. The collective of NGOs of the DRC disapproves of sentencing of activists from LUCHA.

The Coordinator of this structure, Georges Kapiamba considers that this sentence violates the rights recognized to all citizens, by calling the Court of appeal from Goma to a ‘good read’ law.

“Justice is based only on statements of the kind ‘after winning the cup of Chan in Kigali, 2016 it is the year of the victory of democracy?’ In other words it is to say that we are calling for elections within the constitutional time limits.

“That is all what constituted as the basis for the sentence of two years in prison against these young people,” said Georges Kapiamba.

The Coordinator of the Group of 33 NGOs considers that sentencing of LUCHA activists is “breaching severe fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and opinion.”

Last March, two LUCHA activists were arrested in Kinshasa to be engaged in the electoral process, and they have been accused as being terrorists.

Four other members of this movement were sentenced last September by the first instance court of Goma to six months in prison with twelve months of judicial observation for incitement to disobedience to the authority.

They were arrested in April last year in an event initiated at the time calling for a public mobilization for the release of their comrades imprisoned in Kinshasa.

The United States has also expressed concern over the sentencing of these four young activists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Byobe Malenga

I have worked with the media (written and spoken press) for several years in various fields such as production of commercials, jingles, magazines, newspapers and other emissions. I have capitalized on the valuable experience of working with foreign radio in areas of partnership, social mobilization around water points, the setting-up of committees, etc.

I am currently working with the BBC World Service as a freelancer in Swahili, for Radio, TV and online. In addition to this I am also the officer manager and multimedia journalist at Radio Ngoma ya Amani RNA-FIZI www.rnafizi.net, as well as Editor of the newspaper ‘Journal Des Rapatries’.

I have already participated in several reporting missions on behalf of several radio stations such as Radio Television Groupe d’Avenir- Kinshasa as well as numerous training missions, animation workshops and support as the strategic planning and operational. I have already made several trips to Africa taking in Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, the Republic of central Africa and the Congo Brazza.

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