September 4, 2009
KAIROS Urgent action
Congolese human rights defender Golden Misabiko imprisoned and charged for questioning mining practices
KAIROS requests your help in securing the freedom of Congolese human rights defender Golden Misabiko.
Misabiko was arrested on 24 July and charged with “threatening state security” because his organization, the Association Africaine de dÃƒ©fense des Droits de l’Homme in Katanga province (ASADHO/Katanga), published a report alleging state complicity in illegal mining at a uranium mine in Katanga province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is a controversial mine that critics claim is polluting the air and water of the region.
Misabiko was being detained at the Prosecutor’s Office under a pre-trial detention request by the Prosecutor. On 24 August, the High Court agreed to release Misabiko on bail out of concern for his deteriorating health. While detained, Golden Misabiko was forced to sleep outdoors on a cardboard box to avoid the crowded and unsanitary conditions of the main holding cell.
KAIROS calls for all charges against Golden Misabiko to be dropped. KAIROS urges the Congolese government to ensure the free participation of civil society in debates on the management of Congo’s mineral resources, and to safeguard the security of human rights advocates.
KAIROS also urges that no Canadian company become involved in any mining in the DRC that adversely impacts the environment or the social well-being of Congolese citizens.
Golden Misabiko, Chair of ASADHO/Katanga, was arrested on 24 July in Lubumbashi, DRC. TimothÃƒ©e Mbuya, Vice-Chair of ASADHO/Katanga, was also arrested on 24 July but released on the same day. ASADHO/Katanga works with KAIROS partner HÃƒ©ritiers de la Justice.
Both men were interrogated in Lubumbashi by members of the Congolese intelligence agency. Misabiko has been charged with “undermining state security” and “making defamatory statements”.
Misabiko, a human rights advocate, together with local civil society groups, campaigns for increased transparency and accountability in the management of mineral wealth in the province of Katanga, a copper and cobalt rich region. He has been arrested and intimidated several times in the past for his human rights activities.
ASADHO/Katanga released a report on 12 July 2009 about the Shinkolobwe uranium mine denouncing state authorities for supporting illegal and dangerous mining and for signing a contract in March with the French nuclear group AREVA under opaque circumstances.
In 2004, a United Nations assessment team found high risks of mine collapse and potential chronic exposure to radiation at the Shinkolobwe mine, and concluded that the mine must remain closed. The assessment followed an earlier mine collapse in July 2004 that killed eight people.
“The situation in Shinkolobwe could be described as anarchisticÃ¢â‚¬”there is no respect for mining safety regulations,” according to Mr. Bernard Lamouille, an expert in artisanal mining of the United Nations assessment team.
The mine at Shinkolobwe is also described as unleashing radioactive materials into the air and water of the region. According to experts, the mine is contaminating the small rivers of the area, rivers that eventually feed into the Congo River, a major source of food and transport for the entire country.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the 21 resource rich African countries implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global initiative for increased transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors. The participation of independent civil society is a fundamental component of the multi-stakeholder nature of the EITI and Congolese civil society organisations are playing an active role to ensure that their country becomes fully compliant with the initiative.
KAIROS has been calling for more transparency in Congo’s mining sector, including renegotiating and/or cancelling mining contracts that do not meet the needs of local populations.
While the KAIROS website is offline for repairs, please visit our sister organization Africafiles and our member Development and Peace for more information:
Pour l’information en franÃƒ§ais, veuillez visiter http://www.devp.org/devpme/fr/international/congo-history-fr.html
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY:
Demanding that the authorities drop all charges against Golden Misabiko.
Urging them to guarantee Golden Misabiko’s right to freedom of expression,
including the right to conduct research, publish and disseminate information, a principle recognized by the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:
Son Excellence Joseph Kabila
PrÃƒ©sident de la RÃƒ©publique
Palais de la Nation
Avenue de Lemera
Democratic Republic of Congo
E-mail: [email protected] Justice Minister:
Luzolo Bambi Lessa
Ministre de la Justice
228 Avenue de Lemera
RÃƒ©publique DÃƒ©mocratique du Congo
E-mail : [email protected] Governor of Katanga:
Moise Katumbi Chapwe
Please leave a message on the Governor’s official website :
www.katanga.cd/misc/contact.php SEND COPIES TO:
Mrs. Louise NZANGA RAMAZANI
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo
18 Range Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8J3
Fax: (613) 230-1945
Program Coordinator Ã¢â‚¬” International Human Rights
310 Dupont Street