French

HRDs released on bail after spending more than 100 days in prison

Soldiers from the Republic Guard escort incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso as he leaves the polling station in Brazzaville, March 21, 2021. REUTERS/Olivia Acland via GalloImages

Association

HRDs released on bail

On 13th July 2021, activists, who had been imprisoned since March 2021 and were prosecuted for ‘undermining the internal security of the state’, were provisionally released from prison. Among them were civil society activist Alexandre Ibacka Dzabana, who was taken from his residence and detained on 11th March 2021, and Christ Dongui, the vice-president of the social movement Ras-le-Bol who was arrested on 25th March 2021.

Prior to their arrests, Dongui participated in a press conference denouncing irregularities in the 21st March presidential poll, while Dzabana was part of the organisation of a peaceful protest, planned for 6th March 2021 but banned by authorities, to demand an inclusive national dialogue and the release of political prisoners.

Report: social and economic rights defenders met with repression

In its report “On the back of the crisis. Violations of the right to health and repression of economic and social rights defenders in the Republic of Congo”, published in April 2021, human rights organisation Amnesty International highlighted how the right to health has deteriorated against a background of a dual crisis experienced in the Republic of Congo – an economic crisis since 2014 and the COVID-19 pandemic – exacerbated by corruption and mismanagement of the health sector. Defenders of social and economic rights, who have criticised the multiple rights violations, have been met with repression: human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists and students have faced judicial harassment, threats, administrative sanctions and torture.

Expression

Journalist sentenced to six months in prison

On 4th May 2021, World Press Freedom Day, journalist Raymond Malonga, editor of satirical magazine Sel-Piment was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 30 million francs (54,000 USD) for defamation. As reported previously on the Monitor, Malonga was arrested on 2nd February 2021 following a defamation complaint stemming from the magazine's publication, on 18th January 2021, of an article alleging embezzlement by Georgette Okemba, the wife of the head of the National Security Council, Jean-Dominique Okemba, who is also a relative of president Sassou Nguesso. Arnaud Froger of Reporters without Borders commented:

“After months of fighting for this journalist to be freed, so that he can answer to the charges from outside of prison, the court decided, on a day when the whole world is celebrating a day dedicated to journalists and the news media, to sentence him to a prison term, disregarding laws that provide a framework for practicing journalism.”

Raymond Malonga was released from prison on 11th August 2021, after having served his sentence.