English PEN strongly protests the five-week incommunicado detention of Nsimba Embete Ponte, who has been detained since 7 March 2008 for no known reason.
Embete Ponte, editor of the privately-owned newspaper L’Interprète, based in Kinshasa, was abducted by unidentified armed men in the Masina district in the east of the capital on 7 March 2008 and detained in a secret location. After a number of days, his family finally located him in a building used by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) near the Prime Minister’s office in Kinshasa, but have not been permitted to visit him. Embete Ponte is also reportedly being denied access to legal and medical assistance.
The official motives for Embete Ponte’s arrest and continuing detention remain unknown. According to the local free press organisation Journalist en Danger (JED), the editor had been receiving threats following the publication of a series of February 2008 articles on President Kabila’s health.
Another L’Interprète employee, a member of the production team, was reportedly arrested by men in police uniforms and a police car on 29 March 2008 and has not been seen since.
Despite continuing serious human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including frequent imprisonment of and other attacks on journalists, the mandate of the United Nations (UN) expert for the country was not renewed by the UN Human Rights Council at its last meeting in March 2008.
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Please send appeals:
- Protesting the arrest and incommunicado detention of Nsimba Embete Ponte in apparent violation of his right to express his opinion freely in print, guaranteed by Articles 22-24 of the DRC Constitution, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the DRC is party.
- Pointing out that the five weeks’ detention without charge or trial is inadmissible under international legislation that guarantees the right not to be held in arbitrary detention, and the right to be brought to trial within a reasonable period.
- Calling for Embete Ponte to be freed either to face trial at a later date, should he be charged with a criminal offence, or that he be released unconditionally;
- Urging that while he remains in prison, he be given full access to his lawyers, family and medical attention.
S.E. Joseph Kabila, Président de la République
Palais de la Nation
République Démocratique du Congo
Fax: 243 81 346 4116
Salutation: Dear President Kabila
Minister of Justice
Georges Minsay Booka, Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
Place de l’Indépendence
République démocratique du Congo
Fax: 243 12 20 843
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister for Human Rights
Eugène Lokwa Ilwaloma, Ministre des Droits humains
Ministère des Droits Humains
33/C Boulevard du 30 juin
République Démocratique du Congo
It may be more effective, however, to send the above appeals via the Congolese representative in London:
Her Excellency Mrs Eugenie Tshiela Compton
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
281 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8QF
Fax: 44 (0)20 7833 9967
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/democraticrepublicofcongonewspapereditordetainedincommunicado/