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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Military trial and death penalty fears mount for 41 detained after Goma airport attack

21 Aug 2015
[International Secretariat]
Region: DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Topic:

There are mounting fears that a group of 41 suspects detained since early June are soon to face a military trial, including the risk of the death penalty, following their recent transfer into military custody, Amnesty International warned.

On 5 August the detainees were transferred to a military prison, following their arrest in a security clampdown two months ago after gunmen attacked Goma airport and other parts of the city on 2 June. They had been held for more than 60 days without being brought before a civilian judge at a detention Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were held incommunicado and forced to sleep on concrete floors.

“Arrested in the crackdown after the assault on Goma airport and charged with ‘insurrection’ and other offences, the detainees now run the risk of facing the death penalty in a trial conducted in a military court,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the East, Great Lakes and Horn of Africa.

“A fair trial before a civilian court which meets international human rights standards, including the right to appeal and other remedies, is paramount.”

The 41 suspects, mostly civilians other than four police officers and two members of the Congolese army, were transferred from the ANR to the office of the military prosecutor of North Kivu, linked to a military court.

“The jurisdiction of military courts over criminal cases should be limited to trials of military personnel for breaches of military discipline, not for ordinary crimes or crimes under international law or human rights violations. In addition, international law prohibits the trial of civilians in military courts under any circumstance".”

Background

On 2 June, Goma airport and some parts of the city were attacked allegedly by an armed movement. At least four people including two members of the Presidential Guard in charge of airport security were killed in the attack. From 3 June the Goma attack suspects. The Congolese security forces, the military police and the ANR arrested at least 75 people. The arrested were detained at a detention centre in Goma. Several people were subsequently released but the 41 suspects remained in in detention.

12 August 2015
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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