UN chief "shocked" to learn of Congo activist's death

09:17, June 04, 2010      

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United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed his shock at the deaths of a prominent human rights activist and his driver in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a statement attributable to the UN spokesperson.

Ban was "deeply shocked" to learn of the deaths of Floribert Chebeya, president of the Voice of the Voiceless, and of his driver, Fidele Bazana, in unclear circumstances, said the statement.

Chebeya, who worked to uphold the rights of the constitution and improve prison conditions, was found dead in his car in a Kinshasa suburb on Wednesday after being called to meet with police the evening before, according to media reports. Bazana has been missing since Tuesday evening.

The secretary-general noted that the Congolese minister of interior has ordered security services to investigate the " troubling deaths" of these two men.

However, Ban stressed that the investigation, and all such cases, should be thorough, transparent and independent, with full respect for due process and rule of law. The United Nations, through the UN mission in Congo, MONUC is prepared to assist such an investigation, if requested, added the statement.

Earlier on Thursday, the head of MONUC, Alan Doss, called for an investigation into the death of Chebeya, who had been harassed by authorities in the past, according to media report.

Philip Alston, the UN investigator for extrajudicial executions, said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday that Chebeya was "killed in circumstances which strongly suggest official responsibility."

The UN secretary-general called Chebeya "a champion of human rights, which earned him the respect and admiration of his compatriots and of the international community," said the UN statement. "His work will be remembered as a tribute to Congolese perseverance."

Source: Xinhua


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