Arrests And Detentions of Union Members in Katanga

UN Integrated Regional Information Network, 5 July 2001

Four members of a railroad workers union were abducted on Tuesday in the southern Katanga province town of Lubumbashi, DRC, the Centre des droits de l'homme et du droit humanitaire (CDH) stated in a press release on Wednesday. CDH noted that the union submitted on 12 June a letter to the head of the national railroad authority recommending the payment of salaries at a level that would maintain the workers' purchase power and thereby guarantee peaceful relations. Rene Lokosha, Dr. Wasso, Kasongo Kadibwe and Roger Mateso of the Solidarite union were arrested on Tuesday by the Agence Nationale de Renseignements (ANR), the government intelligence agency, and subjected to corporal punishment, CDH stated, expressing particular concern for Mateso, whose whereabouts remain unknown and for whom there is reason to fear for his life. The CDH reported that a colleague who on Tuesday tried to visit the men on Tuesday at the ANR offices was detained for 22 hours, while two additional members of the same union in Likasi, Katanga province were summoned to the ANR, also on Tuesday.

The CDH denounces and condemns the abduction of these individuals who, in carrying out their duties, were simply defending the rights of workers. It is with good reason we ask why in our country, the DRC, which claims to be a lawful nation that respects human rights and fundamental liberties, people are still arrested means of resorting to secretive abductions, transfers and detentions. This is all the more surprising in light of the recent adoption of the Congolese Charter of Human Rights at the end of the National Conference on Human Rights that our security services persevere in defiance of our laws. The CDH is requesting DRC authorities to reveal the location of Mateso; to unconditionally release the union representatives; to bring the union representatives before a court a law to determine if there are grounds for their arrest; and to take all action necessary to promote constructive dialogue between the workers and their employer.