Human rights defenders prevented from meeting victims of Kilwa massacre
Katanga governor stops activists from flying to Kilwa
ACIDH, ASADHO, Global Witness and RAID today condemned blatant tactics by
government authorities in Katanga to prevent Congolese human rights defenders from
pursuing their legitimate human rights work.
In the latest series of obstructions in the search for justice for the victims of the 2004
Kilwa massacre, the Governor of Katanga province, Moïse Katumbi, and the provincial
Minister of Interior, Dikanga Kazadi, prohibited a group of Congolese human rights
defenders from flying to Kilwa on 1 April 2008.
The Kilwa massacre - which claimed at least 73 civilian lives - was carried out in
October 2004 by soldiers of the 62nd Brigade of the Congolese Armed Forces with
logistical support from the Australian/Canadian mining company, Anvil Mining. Anvil
Mining has stated that its support was requisitioned and that it had no choice in the
The team planning to visit Kilwa included human rights activists Georges Kapiamba,
Jonas Mulamba, Serge Lukunga and Prince Kumwamba, and Paulin Ulimwengu, a
spokesperson for the victims of the 2004 Kilwa massacre. They were intending to visit
victims of the Kilwa massacre on behalf of Australian lawyers Slater & Gordon, who are
investigating possible compensation claims in the Australian courts against Perth-based
Anvil Mining for 61 of the victims.
The activists were taken by surprise when, just before their leased plane was due to take
off, staff from the control tower at Lubumbashi airport informed them that they had
received instructions from the intelligence services (Agence Nationale de Renseignements
- ANR) that their flight to Kilwa, Dikulushi and Pweto had not received official
clearance. According to airport officials, the Minister of Interior of Katanga province
had issued an order requiring the group to obtain prior authorization from the Ministry
before they could land in Kilwa. Yet the airline had already made two flights that day to
Kilwa without being asked for prior authorization.
On 2 April 2008, the activists were informed by the head of the Lubumbashi office of
MONUC (the UN peacekeeping mission) that the Governor of Katanga had refused them
permission to travel to Kilwa because of alleged insecurity in the area.
Later the same day, the activists were told that the Governor had met a representative of
the airline, as well as the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), and told them that they should not transport the human rights team to
One of the activists also received a telephone call from a local administrative authority in
Kilwa asking him if the team had already arrived in Kilwa and informing him that if they
did not have "official documents", there was no point in them going there.
"It is clear that all the authorities have been warned about our mission and instructed to
prevent us from doing our work at all cost", said human rights lawyer, Georges
Kapiamba. "The government is in effect denying the Kilwa victims their right to receive
assistance to obtain justice for the damages they suffered."
The authorities' attempts to prevent the activists from travelling to Kilwa is part of a
well-documented pattern of obstructions and pressures by the Congolese authorities in
the Kilwa case.
The latest events demonstrate an intensification of efforts by the authorities to stifle the
truth; it is also the first time in this case that they have deployed such tactics to restrict the
movements of human rights activists. "This reflects how desperate the authorities are to
prevent the truth about the Kilwa incident from coming out. It sets a worrying precedent
for independent human rights work in Congo", said Prince Kumwamba, Executive
Director of ACIDH.
ACIDH, ASADHO, Global Witness and RAID are calling on the Congolese authorities -
at provincial and national level - to put an immediate end to the harassment and
obstruction of human rights workers seeking to obtain justice for the victims of the grave
human rights violations committed in Kilwa.
For further information, please contact:
Amigo Ngonde Funsu (ASADHO): +243 998246147, +243 815181707
Georges Kapiamba : +243 814043641, +243 998411070
Prince Kumwamba N'sapu (ACIDH) : +243 995252965, +243 997025331
Patricia Feeney (RAID) + 44 7796 178 447
Carina Tertsakian (Global Witness) +44 207 561 6372
Notes for Editors
In June 2007 the military court of Katanga acquitted nine Congolese soldiers and three
expatriate employees of Anvil Mining for war crimes and complicity in war crimes
committed in Kilwa. The charges included summary executions, torture, illegal
detention and looting. The proceedings were widely condemned for extensive flaws and
irregularities, including political interference and intimidation of witnesses. Louise
Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticised the conduct
of the trial and the inappropriate use of a military court to try civilians.
She expressed concern over the court's conclusions that the Kilwa events were the
accidental results of fighting, despite significant contrary evidence and eye witness
testimony. The military court of appeal then also succumbed to political pressure and
denied the victims their right to a fair appeal hearing.
ACIDH, ASADHO, Global Witness and RAID have called on the governments of South
Africa and Canada to pursue investigations and possible prosecutions against their
nationals named in the Congolese trial. They also believe that the Australian Federal
Police should pursue its own investigation into the role of Anvil Mining and its staff in
the events of October 2004. As signatories to the Rome Statute, the governments of
Australia, Canada and South Africa have confirmed their commitment to prosecuting
nationals who commit or are complicit in international crimes committed in foreign
In February 2008, Slater & Gordon filed a preliminary application to the Western
Australian Supreme Court on behalf of the victims seeking disclosure of documents. The
purpose of this application is to determine the precise circumstances under which Anvil
Mining provided logistical assistance to the military in Kilwa. Anvil Mining is resisting
For further information, please see the report "Kilwa Trial: a Denial of Justice" (July
2007), published by ACIDH, ASADHO/Katanga, Global Witness and RAID, and press
release "Military court of appeal succumbs to political interference in Kilwa trial"
(December 2007), published by Global Witness and RAID, both available at
Further documentation on the Kilwa events is also available at <a href="http://www.raiduk.
org/docs/Kilwa" > http://www.raiduk.org/docs/Kilwa</a>