Angolan activist arbitrarily detained in DR Congo

News
July 6, 2011

Angolan activist arbitrarily detained in DR Congo

An Angolan human rights activist arbitrarily detained without charge in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than two weeks must be released immediately, Amnesty International said today.

Agostinho Chicaia, an environmentalist and former president of the banned Angolan human rights organization Mpalabanda, was arrested in Kinshasa on 20 June, apparently in connection with an attack on the Togolese football team last year.

The Congolese authorities have told Amnesty International that they are detaining him on an international arrest warrant for 25 individuals wanted on terrorism offences by the Angolan government.

"Agostinho Chicaia has been arbitrarily detained for more than two weeks now without charge. The Congolese immigration police have told us that they will release him if instructed to do so by the Angolan authorities. The authorities in Angola must intervene immediately to ensure his release, "said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International’s Angola researcher.

Agostinho Chicaía, who has been living in Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo since 2009, was arrested in the DRC by members of the Congolese Immigration Police at the N’djili International Airport in Kinshasa. He was en route to Harare via Kinshasa to attend a conference on environmental issues.

Information received by Amnesty International indicates that the international arrest warrant was apparently issued in 2010 and is no longer valid, reportedly because the specific crime for which it was issued was revoked by the Angolan authorities in December 2010.

The arrest warrant list is believed to be connected to an attack on the Togolese football team in Cabinda in January 2010, which left two people dead and several injured.

The Congolese authorities say that the Angolan consulate has not informed them that the arrest list was no longer valid.

Agostinho Chicaia’s wife told Amnesty International that her husband is forced to sleep in an outdoor courtyard as conditions in the detention cell are appalling.

She said a representative from the Angolan consulate had visited him in the detention centre on 29 June.

"They said they can't do anything till Luanda responds. They promised to help once they got notification from the Angolan authorities. I think the problem is with Angola. The Congolese say Angola has to decide. They sent a letter to Angola, but Angola has not responded," she told Amnesty International.