DR of Congo: despite security incident, UN human rights expert continues visit

8 December 2003

Despite a serious incident at a high security prison in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an expert of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights will continue her visit to the country, the UN rights body said today.

As part of her fourth trip to the DRC, Special Rapporteur Iulia Motoc was detained on Sunday after she had listened to the complaints of several groups of prisoners at Buluo prison in Likasi, Katanga. As she and her delegation were leaving the main building of the prison, about 60 detainees blocked their exit for around three hours, demanding to be released, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The prisoners said they believed they should be freed under the 15 April 2003 amnesty law, which pardons combatants for committing acts of war between 2 August 1998 and 4 April 2003, except for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ms. Motoc told them that the defence of human rights should always be pursued by legal means and no right could be obtained by force, a statement released by the OHCHR said.

During her trip she has noted, however, that implementation of the amnesty law has been carried out in a slow and discriminatory manner.

At the invitation of the DRC Government, Ms. Motoc is visiting the country from 29 November to 11 December. She is expected to meet senior government officials, including President Joseph Kabila, and representatives of civil society in Kinshasa.


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