Authorities in DR Congo urged to release detainees

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Police officers trying to maintain calm during demonstrations in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: MONUSCO

The government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been urged to release people who have been arrested during recent protests in the country.

The appeal has come from the UN human rights office in Geneva which says the people are being "illegally" detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

At least 300 people remain in detention in the DR Congo after mass arrests during recent protests in the capital, Kinshasa and Lubum-bashi, the second largest city in the country, according to the UN human rights office.

The people were reportedly protesting against a planned amendment to the constitution to extend the term for the president.

The UN human rights Office in Geneva says at least 11 people are believed to be in what is called "incommunicado" detention including Ngoyi Mutamba, a prominent civil society activist.

Spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, says family members and defence lawyers for the activist have had no news of him for more than two weeks.

"This raises serious due process concerns. The UN joint human rights office in the DRC has been working with the authorities to secure the release of all those who have been illegally detained, as they entered their third week of detention without access to lawyers. We reiterate our call to the authorities to release all those imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression of their views, for their affiliation with the opposition or for disagreeing with the amendments to the electoral bill." (28")

Internet and mobile text messaging services have also been restricted for more than two weeks now in the DR Congo, Ravina Shamdasani added.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’20″

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