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Death of human rights activist in D.R. Congo

04 June 2010

Letter to President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Geneva, 4 June 2010

Your Excellency,

The World Council of Churches would like to express its deep concern at the death under suspicious circumstances of Mr Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, a leading human rights advocate and Executive Director of the Congolese NGO "La Voix des Sans-Voix pour les Droits de l’Homme" in DRC.

It was reported that Mr Chebeya Bahizire was called to meet a senior police official in Kinshasa late in the afternoon of 1 June 2010.  He had a brief telephone contact with his wife during the evening. However, early next morning his body was found on the outskirts of Kinshasa. His driver is still missing.

Mr Chebeya Bahizire was known to us personally and he was part of WCC’s human rights defenders network in Africa.  We had the privilege of the participation of his Organization at the human rights workshop that was organized by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and Bread for the World, Germany in Kinshasa in April this year.

Your Excellency, we are concerned of the fact that the past year has seen increased oppression against Congolese human rights defenders.  In this context, we urge the Congolese government to act as agents of the rule of law.  The government has a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of its citizens and should demonstrate this respect by conducting a full, open and transparent investigation into the death of Mr Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and the fate of his driver, Mr Fidele Bazana Edadi. 

We ask urgently that the government ensures these practices are stopped and those responsible are brought to justice, including whoever is responsible for the death of Mr Floribert Chebeya Bahizire.

Sincerely yours, 

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary