DRC: Free Legal Assistance Group and Others v Zaire (2000) AHRLR 74 (ACHPR 1995) 1. Communication 25/89 is filed by the Free Legal Assistance Group, the Austrian Committee Against Torture and the Centre Haitien des Droits et Libertés, all members of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). The submission of the Free Legal Assistance Group was dated 17 March 1989, that of the Austrian Committee Against Torture 29 March 1989 and that of the Centre Haitien 20 April 1989. The Communication alleges the torture of 15 persons by a military unit, on or about 19 January 1989, at Kinsuka near the Zaire River . On 19 April 1989 when several people protested their treatment, they were detained and held indefinitely. 2. Communication 47/90, dated 16 October 1990, was filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights in New York. It alleges arbitrary arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture, extrajudicial executions, unfair trials, severe restrictions placed on the right to association and peaceful assembly, and suppression of the freedom of the press. 3. Communication 56/91 was submitted by the Jehovah's Witnesses of Zaire and dated 27 March 1991. It alleges the persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses, including arbitrary arrests, appropriation of church property, and exclusion from access to education. 4. Communication 100/93 was submitted by the Union Interafricaine des Droits de l'Homme and dated 20 March 1993. It makes allegations of torture, executions, arrests, detention, unfair trials, restrictions on freedom of association and freedom of the press. It also alleges that public finances were mismanaged; that the failure of the government to provide basic services was degrading; that there was a shortage of medicines; that the universities and secondary schools had been closed for two years; that freedom of movement was violated; and that ethnic hatred was incited by the official media. 5. The African Commission, when it determined that the communications, taken together, evidenced a grave and massive violation of human rights in Zaire, brought the matter to the attention of the Assembly of the Heads of State of the Organization of African Unity in December 1995. 6. The Commission also requested that a mission consisting of two members of the Commission be received in that country, with the objective of discovering the extent and cause of human rights violations and of endeavouring to help the government to ensure full respect for the African Charter. The government of Zaire has never responded to these requests for a mission. Procedure before the Commission 7. Communication 25/89 was received by the Commission in June 1989. The Commission was seized of the communication at its 11th session in October 1989 and the state of Zaire was notified on 14 March 1990. 8. Between 1990 and 1993, numerous reminders were sent by the Secretariat to the government of Zaire, but no response was received. 9. The Secretariat also sent the complainants regular updates on the status of the communications. 10. On 23 September 1993, the Ministry of Justice of Zaire wrote that no copy of the communication had ever been received. 11. A copy was sent on 3 March 1994 by registered post to the Embassy of Zaire in Dakar but no response was forthcoming. 12. At the 16th session, held in April 1994, the Commission decided to send a mission to Zaire in order to create a dialogue. 13. At the 17th session, held in March 1995, the communications against Zaire were declared admissible. 14. The government of Zaire was notified of this decision on 26 April 1995. 15. At the 18th session, held in October 1995, the Commission decided to apply article 58(1) of the Charter and to draw the attention of the Heads of State and Government to the serious and massive violations of human rights in Zaire. 16. On 12 January 1996, a note verbale was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Zaire informing the Ministry of the proposed mission to Zaire to be undertaken by Commissioners Nguema and Ben Salem. 17. Communication no 47/90 was received by the Commission in October 1990.

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